'Pandemic Pods' gaining traction with parents, educators as school year starts

Parents looking for resources to help kids learn
Posted at 6:26 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 19:37:46-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the school year fast approaching, some parents who are anxious about how to ensure children utilizing virtual learning don't fall behind are turning to "pandemic pods."

Essentially, these are a small group of parents who hire a private teacher to teach their kids in-person while following the virtual curriculum of the district where they reside.

One of those parents, Jemma Radick, has two kids in the Shawnee Mission School District.

"Our two kids kind of going back to school starting in September has been a real stress for us just wondering how can we keep two full-time jobs, doing a great job for our companies, but also have our own expectations for our kids education," she said.

She and a few other parents hired a teaching assistant, which Radick will host at her house during this semester.

"We’ve decided to make it available to just three families, so a maximum of six kids and our big requirement is that the families who we pair with for this all adopt the same level of COVID precautions that we do, so we can keep a safe bubble," Radick said.

A local Facebook page, "Pandemic Pods," created by Kelly Walden helps connect parents like Radick to educators who are looking for work and willing to tutor kids.

"I realized that everyone is sort of flailing," Walden said. "Everyone has questions and no one has answers. Hopefully, the information exchange that would be available by connecting people who know or are schooled in these things will be very helpful."

Walden is a teacher herself. With the virtual learning experience, she advises keeping the pods small to mitigate the risk on contracting COVID-19.

But a "pandemic pod" isn't cheap, putting such a solution out of reach for most families.

"No doubt, it is a luxury to hire a full-time private teacher," Walden said.

Radick feels fortunate.

"I wish there were a way I could make it more equitable for the families around us, including some our good friends, that simply don’t have the resources to participate in a solution like this one," she said.