Connecticut School Closure Extended Another Month, Parents Tackle Teaching

NBC 5 News

Connecticut schools have been closed nearly a month and on Thursday Gov. Ned Lamont announced he’s extended long-distance learning to at least May 20 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Connecticut checked in with the Begley Family in Newington to see how online learning is going. Jennifer and Christopher have four sons, ages 3, 6, 8, and 10.

“I think my 6-year-old has the most work,” said Jennifer.

Getting 6-year-old Trey focused is a big job for his mom, who is also working full-time.

“He can get distracted more easily than his older brothers,” she said.

Try explaining to a first grader that the computer he uses to play games and watch cartoons is now only for math and reading.  With toys and TVs around the house, long-distance learning can be a challenge at any age.

“My third grader who’s 8 has a very strict schedule on his Chromebook with his teacher and it’s timed and she does a really awesome job with that.  It’s just keeping him motivated to do that because we’re at home because there are so many distractions,” said Begley.

Her oldest son Taylor, on the other hand, gets his assignment at 9 a.m. and is done by noon. 

Richard Lemons, who runs a non-profit in education, has been working directly with districts on keeping kids engaged.

“This is the kind of shift that we might have spent years getting ready for if not at least months getting ready for and now all of a sudden we’re expecting educators to do it almost overnight,” Lemons pointed out.

Back at the Begley house, Jennifer and Christopher try to fit “brain breaks” into the schedule, but parents and students are faced with a certain amount of monotony after nearly a month of long-distance learning.

“Mama’s hit a wall.  The kids have hit a wall.  It’s day I think 15 for us in Newington,” Begley laughed.

With the situation not changing anytime soon, Lemons had some advice for weary parents.

“I would give parents permission to not be perfect here and give them permission to take care of themselves," he said.

Amidst the chaos, Begley has found a silver lining.

“I’m trying to enjoy that time home as much as I can, as frustrating as it is, because we may never get this again,” she said.

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