Zoom school is looking a little more colorful these days, thanks to an online initiative by Youth in Arts (YIA).

When learning went remote in March, YIA Executive Director Kristen Jacobson and her team scrambled for a way to give students an artistic outlet. 

For fifty years, the San Rafael arts education organization had provided schools, from elementary to college, with dynamic, hands-on arts materials and programs, but traditional instruction couldn’t take place under distancing measures required by the pandemic. 

In response, while teachers led classes virtually and shows went on view in the windows of the C Street gallery, Jacobson and her team developed a new online learning platform called YIArts.COR

The new learning program currently offers a dozen video courses for grades K-12 in such subjects as Afro-Peruvian culture, architecture, exploring identity and body percussion. Some classes are free, but most range between $18-$22.

“Teaching online has allowed us to extend our programming beyond what we could have dreamed,” Jacobson said. “YIArts.COR is the intersection of technology, accessibility, equity and the arts. It’s a big solution to keep arts in the school day for students, schools and families.”

Prior to the pandemic, YIA teachers and programs typically served around 2,000 students a semester; with the implementation of virtual learning this year, that number has doubled. The videos are supported with written instructions in both English and Spanish, and they are available for teachers, parents or anyone who wants to develop new artistic muscle.

“While it isn’t the same as being in class, it is vital that students have a way to express themselves and share their voices during these challenging times,” Jacobson said.

Additional learning and art materials for students of all abilities are available on the Youth in Arts Art Resources for Teachers and Students Bank (ARTS Bank).