Springetts woman turns gym into classroom to aid students doing virtual learning

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

A Springettsbury Township woman aims to turn her gym into a part-time classroom for students who are doing virtual learning this year.

Tia Long, the owner of Stellar Fitness, got the idea to convert several unused studio rooms into classrooms after she saw how her daughter, Abby, a 10th grader, reacted to homeschooling.

"I watched her lose socialization and not be able to do things on a daily basis you would be able to do at school," Long said, adding that she enrolled her daughter into Central York School District after a year of homeschooling.

School districts have grappled with whether classes should remain in person or operate virtually since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

In March, when the coronavirus outbreak started, school districts took measures to close schools and finish the spring semester virtually. Now, they're starting back up with a range of options, including fully virtual or partially virtual classes.

Long said families choosing the virtual option can utilize her studio as a space where students can stay socially distanced from other children while completing online class assignments. 

With tables donated by friends and neighbors, students will be spaced 6 feet apart while working on assignments or attending class. It will cost $20 for a half-day, which includes a gym class, Long said. 

Stellar Fitness, located at 50 N. Northern Way, can also be used for virtual gym classes, which will cost $75 per session, Long said.

In addition to supervision by Long, she said she is working to encourage college students to volunteer to assist her.

"It's nice to have somebody else even if you're not able to talk the entire time," Long said. "Just knowing they're in the same room as you."

While Long said only a few children have signed up so far, she said she hopes more York County parents will utilize this opportunity.

With a small sampling of students, Long said she will test the waters to see if more interest is generated for continuing. 

"Everybody's schedule is different," Long said. "I'm hoping parents would reach out and tell me what they need." 

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.