coronavirus in connecticut

Parents Turn to Learning Pods as an Alternative to In-Person Instruction

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While some families are nervous about sending their children back to school, other parents are working to find ways to keep a teacher’s influence in their lives – even when they are learning remotely.

“It doesn’t substitute for an education. I mean it’s not the same. They’re not going to learn the same amount as they would by interacting with each other and with teachers in real-time. Little kids cannot learn this way,” Kathryn Pascucci said.

That’s why Pascucci formed a pod for her kindergartener and second-grader. 

“Hopefully they’re able to capitalize on the at-home curriculum so that it’s not just me sitting them in front of a computer for like four hours,” Pascucci said. 

Tia Miller is a pod matchmaker.

“We will hire teachers. So how it works is a family forms a pod. Some families need assistance forming a pod, other families already have a pod so they may call and say I have a pod formed. I have six kids in the pod can you bring a teacher,” Miller said. 

Miller started Creativistacharm at the end of July when parents like her, a single mom, were looking for solutions to the possibility of no school in the fall.

The teachers will be using the material the school districts give to the children so that they'll still be considered enrolled in public school even if they decide not to physically attend the school.

Celeste Forst was a middle school art teacher who didn’t feel safe returning to school but welcomes the pod concept.

“If we go in, what is there to protect us, the teachers, the staff, the kids. We need PPE. We need better ventilation,” Forst said. 

The pods are capped at six children.

Miller says they have over 120 people on their Facebook page looking for pods.

“Families split the cost so if it’s three families in the pod then they split the cost,” Miller said. 

Casey Cobb, a professor of education at UConn, said pods do come with a risk.

“What’s happening is a lot of the more privileged, advantaged families are able to do that because of their resources and means, while several other families may not have the resources. And it’s not always financial. It could be a situation of a schedule at home or work,” Cobb said.

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