SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp visited the Avant Learning Center in Savannah Friday to learn more about how the academy is helping get young students back on track following the pandemic.

The Avant Learning Academy develops stimulating programs for students and helps foster knowledge and maturity in the classroom.

Their summer camp programs also offer a variety of learning activities, including hands-on experiences and guest speakers.

Kemp says he has been focused on closing the learning gap created by the COVID-19 pandemic for early learners in the state.

“We’ve been working with our superintendents and gave some grant money to The Boys and Girls Club statewide the other day for learning programs this summer but also for after-school programs,” he said.

The class also participated in a book reading, demonstration from a dog trainer, and an art activity.

“It’s amazing what they’re doing. It’s got a lot of great activities for the kids, but it is a learning program to make sure they’re ready going into the fall,” Kemp said. “This is probably something we’re going to have to do for several years to fill that gap.”

Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning Commissioner Amy Jacobs told WSAV NOW there was an 18% decrease in pre-K enrollment across the state.

There were 67,000 4-year-olds enrolled in the Georgia pre-K program this year when there is usually an average of 80,000.

“All these children are going to kindergarten next year. They’ve already been in Georgia pre-K, they’re doing six more weeks before they get to kindergarten,” Jacobs explained. “It’s really important to make sure they’re ready. That’s our main goal in Georgia’s pre-K program, and these six weeks give them that extra boost before they start kindergarten in August.”

Jacobs says they doubled the number of classrooms and educators in the state this summer because they knew a lot of children were missing out on in-person instruction.

“They could have been completely virtual, they could have been at home, they could have had a hybrid, and so we really made an effort to make sure we had more classrooms and more opportunities for these kids before they get to kindergarten to catch them up if they need that extra help,” she said.