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Parents Balancing At Home Schooling And Full-Time Jobs With Virtual Learning Pods

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Classrooms across North Texas are going digital. With learning taking place at home instead of the classroom, some parents, like Michelle Meals, who work full-time are finding strength in numbers.

"We have really struggled with it honestly," Meals said. "It is a challenge to know what to do."

"We have a young Kindergartner and I don't know that I feel comfortable with him going into a school situation with all of the masks, plexiglass and so much distancing."

Due to these concerns, Meals and her family have decided to commit to a full semester of virtual learning, but with a twist.

They have created a "virtual learning pod" which will consist of four families with children all entering Kindergarten in Richardson ISD. The children will meet at one of the family's homes each day and their learning will be supervised by a sitter the families hire from the local babysitting service, Sitting Made Simple.

"By no means are we replacing the teachers," Ashley Huston, owner of Sitting Made Simple Dallas explained. "We are working in coordination with the teachers, parents and children."

"The sitter will come in and help facilitate making sure the Zoom classroom is set up, making sure the kids are staying on track.The sitter is the facilitator for the day while the parents are at work."

Sitting Made Simple has franchises in Dallas and in Fort Worth. The business was originally established as a parents night out babysitting service, but they saw a need for virtual learning assistance during the pandemic and adjusted their operation.

Melissa Wolf, the owner of Sitting Made Simple Fort Worth, said it was a business decision based on empathy.

"We are also parents of kids that were suppose to be entering kindergarten—so we are feeling that same inner struggle of what to do," Wolf said. "Ultimately our goal is just to be a support to those families, whatever that looks like."

Support that allows parents to keep working full time and kids to keep learning and safely socializing during the pandemic.

"They can read aloud together, they can practice reading together, they can do their art projects together," Meals said. "I believe there is great value in that until we can safely be in person."

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