Pods Provide a Safer Option for Children than Returning to School

In recent weeks, many parents have realized the truth about school this fall: if it happens in person, it might not feel safe; if it happens remotely, it will be inadequate, isolating, and won’t provide the child care working parents need. Desperate for a better solution, parents around the country have started organizing homeschooling pods for the fall, in which groups of three to ten students would learn together in homes under the tutelage of the children’s parents or a hired tutor or teacher. Pods would provide families with a schooling option that feels safe, yet also allows kids to have fun and build social skills.

For parents who can organize and afford them, pods are a great choice. The Zoom education experience is difficult for kids of all ages, but especially younger ones, as they are missing hands-on, multimodal sensory learning as well as social interaction. This is why some families are turning to pods. They can hire a teacher to come teach in the home during the day, providing kids with a more predictable schedule and structure for their days. Families hope that pods can make children feel anchored and safe in a time of such uncertainty and fear.

Seattle-based father Ivan Kerbel plans to set up a learning pod for his kids. In fact, he is hoping to organize these pods, what he calls “nano schools,” for many Seattle families, and he has started a Facebook group to facilitate it, which now has more than 3,000 members.

“If you think of coronavirus as a natural disaster, like a tsunami that has swept over the land, it’s actually left a lot of things intact,” Kerbel said. “The only rule is, you can’t bring a lot of people together in one enclosed space. The teachers are by and large available, the content and the curriculum weren’t destroyed,” so there’s no reason kids can’t go to school, he said — it just has to happen in lower numbers and different spaces.

One concern about pods is that families may not know how to minimize COVID risks. Ideally, pods shouldn’t have more than five kids, said Saskia Popescu, Ph.D., an infection prevention epidemiologist at George Mason University. When you add together the teacher and all of the kids’ family members, a seemingly small pod ends up including dozens of people, and the more people in it, the greater the risk for coronavirus exposure. Families in learning pods shouldn’t be socializing with people outside the pod unless they wear masks and remain socially distant, Dr. Popescu said. It’s also important for families to work through various contingencies, such as what should happen if someone ends up in a high-risk situation, like going to a hospital, or gets sick. Pods should have clear rules on wearing masks and washing hands.

If parents are hiring a teacher, they should make sure their credentials include a bachelor’s degree in education and that they meet state requirements, said Meg Flanagan, an educational consultant based in the Washington, D.C., area. Boston Tutoring Services takes care of this for you, as all tutors have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and are required to undergo a background check before hiring. Our experienced, professional tutors are available to provide academic support for small groups online and in-person for the 2020-2021 School Year. Based on the grade level and group size, we can create a custom academic experience to support your school district’s remote learning plan or provide an alternative to the in-classroom experience. For families looking for a full-time alternative, curriculum will be developed to follow the Massachusetts State Frameworks. Learning can be conducted online or in-person.

For more information, please contact Alexandra Berube at BostonTutoringServices@gmail.com or by calling 781-248-4558. Visit our website for more information.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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