‘Pandemic pods’ gaining popularity as parents seek help with distance learning

Headlines

Local 10 News | Christina Vazquez | August 3, 2020

With full-time childcare financially out of reach for most households, virtual learning presents an enormous challenge.

Diane Swonk, chief economist for Grant Thornton, said without childcare some essential workers won’t have any choice but to leave the labor market.

his is the back drop for the birth of an entire cottage industry of private tutors and educators emerging to answer a need from working parents: so-called pandemic pods.

Parents are creating pandemic pods by teaming up to pool resources to hire teachers or tutors to help oversee distance learning.

There are many options at various price ranges. In some cases, a tutor will come to a private residence and in others, a “pod” will drop off their kids at a center for on-site assistance.

The idea: Parents joining forces to hire the help they need to make the logistics of virtual school possible while maintaining jobs needed to provide economically for the family.

Parents are seeking to hire teachers for an at-home “pod” so that way students have live virtual instruction from a teacher.

At the end of last school year, Miami-Dade County Public Schools did not mandate that its teachers host virtual classrooms for a set period of time each day, which meant some students and parents were left to educate and instruct on their own with the school day not featuring any, or limited, live teacher instruction.

Some charter schools and private schools had several hours of required live teacher instruction time a day that some parents had difficulty with as they balanced work and making sure their child was paying full attention to their teacher via their computer or tablet.

Across South Florida, educators and parents are now connecting online, working to pool resources to rectify this issue.

Social media posts have been aplenty from parents looking for a teacher or tutor to sit with a small group or “pod” of students during distance learning.

In one post, a parent said they were looking for an elementary teacher for a five-kid homeschooling group in Coconut Grove.

Another Facebook post sought out recommendations for a Pre-K teacher for a three to five kid pod in South Beach.

“Home schooling can look like whatever your goals in your household need to be,” one teacher-for-hire, Dee Pineda, said.

Parents are tapping into services like Shiren Rattigan’s Colossal Academy.

“In middle school, parents were nervous there was a gap in their learning,” she said.

“At the elementary age, the biggest thing is fear. Like ‘How — how am I going to do this?‘” Iman Alleyne, of Kind Academy, said.

Jennifer Rapp, of the Missing Peace in Miami Shores, said most parents are looking for a customizable approach that’s offering grade level groupings for kids in public and private schools with a provider to oversee distance-learning assignments.

“At their home or at their center with a max of six students,” she said.

And there is State of Kid in Miami’s Design District, offering on-site space for kids six or less in a pandemic pod created by parents.

What is a “pandemic pod”?

According to one Facebook group, a pandemic pod is “any group of children, and their families, that get together regularly and in-person with measures in place to manage COVID-19 exposure risks. This includes many informal arrangements, such as two families whose adults trade off on supervision duties so that the children can safely play and participate in their school’s remote learning offerings. This can also include nanny shares, home school arrangements, smaller home-based preschools, playdate pods, and more formalized setups such as “microschools,” in which a teacher(s) is hired to educate a group of children in person.”