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Parents Develop 'Learning Pods' To Facilitate Virtual Instruction As New School Year Approaches

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Rebecca Gabor is the mom of 6-year-old twin girls. She and her husband both have full-time jobs, but also took on the role of educator during the three months that schools were shut down due to COVID-19.

"You have to wear every hat," she said. "All at the same time!"

With deadlines and demands from her employer looming, Gabor said it can be difficult to make sure her girls are getting the instruction they need.

"Multiple times my kids have come in on my Zooms to ask me questions, and they need those answered, so I feel spread thin in every way," she said.

Schools will likely not be offering full-time in-person instruction come fall, so Gabor and some of her friends have decided to create a "learning pod." Their plan is to hire a teacher, tutor, or even a college student, to help facilitate remote learning.

"Probably the maximum would be six kids — two, three, or four families max — so from a COVID perspective, you can keep it safe," she said.

Sarah Maruani, a first grade teacher, has founded Kids On the Yard — a local tutoring business. She says that bringing the classroom into the home is becoming a frequent request from parents.

"So that's like the latest request we have been getting from the countless number of parents... saying I want my kids to be in this environment, especially the little ones," she said. "So what they want to do is take their living rooms, empty out couches, and create a learning space in their home."

For parents like Erica Spates, who works full time and has an incoming kindergartener who is an only child, the socialization aspects of school are just as important as the academics.

"She does really well with the distance learning, that's not what I am worried about," Spates said of her daughter. "It's more her social need for interaction, making friends and seeing kids on a regular basis."

Price ranges for hiring someone to lead a learning pod vary widely, from as high as $100 an hour to as low as $100 a day. It's made more affordable by the more families who join, but health experts say that these pods should still practice social distancing, wear masks, and sanitize properly.

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