There were six students on the first day, said Dan O’Brien, NBPA director of sports medicine and research, who is helping oversee the school.
The class size is slated to range from six to 12, a number that will remain fluid as teams are eliminated and as other family members might join the bubble at some point.
Classes are scheduled to be held Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., for students ages 3-7, and private tutoring lessons are available for those outside that age group. (There are roughly 20 players’ children on campus, ranging in age from newborns to 14.) The class is being led by a teacher from the Orlando area along with a teacher’s assistant.
The teacher is employing a Montessori method that’s known for hands-on activities, and themes — which include the ocean, garden, Halloween and fall — will change each week. There are children’s books authored by NBA players, including Chris Paul and LeBron James. And there is a free-standing, kid-sized basketball hoop.
Students sit socially distanced from each other, are tested daily (as is everyone on campus) and wear masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus.
“This classroom is probably the safest classroom in the country right now,” O’Brien said.
In a separate interview, Rogowski echoed that point, noting, “Yes, they’re testing daily, but you still have to take precautions, because there still could be someone spreading it on the campus.”
The idea for the project can be tied to that conference call with players before the bubble ever began. Among the seemingly endless list of logistical equations that would need to be solved for a 22-team bubble to function during a global pandemic, that player’s question — as simple and innocuous as it seemed — hadn’t yet been considered, NBPA officials who were on the call say. (They declined to identify the player out of respect for the player’s privacy.)
But, almost as soon as the call ended, NBPA officials, led by executive director Michele Roberts, set plans in motion.
They would need a space for a classroom. They would need a teacher who would be available and willing to quarantine inside the bubble for a period of time. They’d need a curriculum of sorts. They’d need materials, such as books, tables, chairs, and items for arts and crafts. Day by day, the plan came together.
It’s also not lost on NBPA officials that some of the students wouldn’t be able to receive an in-class education at this time in their home markets, as many schools remain closed due to the pandemic.
“This gives them an opportunity to actually have the kids go to class,” Rogowski said.
The opportunity also gives a break to overworked mothers and caretakers.
“If your team does go to the Finals and you’ve got kids, moms need a break, caretakers need a break,” Rogowski said. “So this is a great opportunity to not only give them a break but give the kids an education at the same time.”