CHATTANOOGA, Tenn – The hallways and classrooms of Girls Inc. of Chattanooga on Brainerd Road are a little different these days.

“Social distancing is still a priority. We do the health questionnaires, we’re taking temperatures,” Girls Inc. Interim CEO Toccora Johnson said.

The non-profit provides in-school, after-school and seasonal camp programs and activities for girls ages 6 to 18.

But when coronavirus hit, leaders of the non-profit had to find a way to adapt to the post-pandemic world.

“We pivoted really quickly to offer a virtual platform. So, we have adapted. In that virtual platform, it allows us to reach even more girls and bring in community partners,” Johnson said.

Girls Inc. partnered with Hamilton County Schools to create its Virtual Learning Center.

“We’re following their virtual schedule. Whatever that looks like. Any classroom assignments they have, any testing, benchmarks,” she added.

It gives girls a place to learn virtually and still receive the guidance and support they need.

Right now, the center has room for 20 more girls.

“You now have parents who are primary educators who really don’t know what to do or how to do things. You may have grandparents who are guardians and they’re trying to maneuver technology,” Johnson said.

Group sizes are limited to seven or eight and masking and social distancing are required.

Johnson said they are also able to provide headphones and Chromebooks to students who need them.

The changes and extra effort are worth it, Johnson said, because the girls they serve need the support Girls Inc. offers more than ever.

 “You can be anything you want to be but you have to think about character, you have to push yourself and you have to find it within yourself to be all that you can be and you don’t allow others to define your success or your happiness,” she said.