For 15 years, kids came to Amerikick, a martial arts center on a bustling corner of Brooklyn’s Park Slope, for karate lessons, learning how to kick, chop, and bow in the center’s spacious upstairs studio.
But in 2020, they come for something a little different: school.
With New York City schools operating on a hybrid model that brings kids into classrooms just two or three days a week, Amerikick was hearing from working parents — especially those who were teachers themselves — that they needed a safe place to send their kids during their remote days. So over the summer, staff decided to transform the space into a distance learning center, where students could come to work on their online classes in a supervised environment.
Turning a karate studio into a space for remote school during a pandemic required a few adjustments. “We outlined the mat with red tape in boxes” to make sure desks were 6 feet apart, Ada Vargas, Amerikick’s program director, told Vox. The studio also installed hand sanitizer stations throughout, as well as some warmer touches, like bulletin boards for each student. “They decorate it and make it their own, to kind of make them feel a little bit easier about things going on,” Vargas said.
And, naturally, each student gets their own Amerikick-branded mask.
While Amerikick’s pivot to distance learning may sound unusual, it’s not unique. Around the country, businesses and nonprofits from dance studios to summer camps are becoming what some