The COVID-19 pandemic has put parents in a difficult position, to say the least. Just as they did in the spring, parents again have to oversee their children’s daily schoolwork on top of their regular jobs.
While some parents are able to supervise their children’s learning at home, others are sending their children to centers, such as Limitless Pediatric Solutions and the Boys & Girls Club of Bluffton, for the school day. Some have hired people to work with their children at home. And some have decided to share the responsibility with other parents.
In early August, Bluffton mom Mikaelah Seifrit organized a public group on Facebook to connect parents who were interested in forming “microschooling pods.” The Virtual School Pods Bluffton group had 808 members at the time this story was published.
“It broke my heart seeing all of the upset and stressed out parents the day that the Board of Education made the announcement of the school closure,” said Seifrit, who works full time running her two businesses, Southern Grace Interiors and Grace Home Decor. “I thought, if it takes a village, then let’s form one.”
The idea was that parents would take turns overseeing virtual school for small groups of children of similar ages. That would give working parents more time to work and would give all the parents a break.
Unfortunately, Seifrit has been unable to find a pod for one of her two children.
While some parents have coordinated learning pods for the school day, others have organized groups just for the socialization aspect. With public playgrounds closed and no face-to-face school, many young students are desperate for play dates.
“It appears that many parents have found solutions (through the local Facebook group),” Seifrit said.
One of those Bluffton parents was Angela Rossillo.
After 20 years of teaching, Rossillo retired in June. Upon learning that school would begin virtually this year, a few parents asked if she would help their children during the school day. Soon she had 14 children in her pod, four of whom are her own.
With two decades of teaching experience under her belt, Rossillo is well-prepared for the school year. Since her three oldest children are in middle school, they can mostly work independently in their bedrooms while Rossillo works with the other children, who range from kindergarten through fifth grade.
From her teaching experience, Rossillo knows that the youngest children need help during lessons and the older ones need help after lessons. That helps her manage her time.
The children can be dropped off at 7:45 a.m. and must be picked up by 5:15 p.m. weekdays.
Recess will take place in Rossillo’s backyard and at the playground next door to her house. For 12 weeks, a sign language teacher will visit for some extracurricular development at 3 p.m. Fridays.
“I figure I can supplement instruction where they may need additional support, help with their assignments, and have their homework done so their parents don’t have to worry when they get home from work,” Rossillo said.
As far as preventing the spread of COVID-19, Rossillo said she requires the children to wash their hands with antibacterial soap as soon as they arrive in the morning and before lunch. She has an immune booster in the humidifier, which runs every day. She has asked parents to give their children vitamins to boost their immune systems, and she will provide fresh fruit for them to snack on daily.
Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.