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'I Want To Go Back': 2 Twin Cities Families Share Their Distance Learning Experience With WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This week marks the end of the school year across much of Minnesota.

For many, summer will be a welcomed break from the balancing act the pandemic caused at home.

WCCO has been documenting the distance learning journey of two Twin Cities families since September.

We found the setbacks and sacrifices will take some time to recover from.

We caught a brief glimpse of life as kids again on a Bloomington playground as this brother and sister finish out an unprecedented school year.

As a single mom, Chalisa Everson couldn't risk a drawn out quarantine away from the salon with kids at separate schools.

"I had to expect a lot out of them and I'm at work," Everson said. "So if I don't go to work I don't make any money. So I just kept them home."

With the help of their grandparents and dedicated teachers, Averie and Taj did their best to keep up with distance learning.

Eversons distance learning
(credit: CBS)

"There's good days where he's like really upbeat, and then there's days where it's almost like just depression," Everson said.

She noticed the biggest behavioral changes in her 12-year-old, who she says she'd catch spending the day in his PJs, or too much time playing video games and not turning in homework.

It's why Taj didn't hesitate when we asked him about his hopes for next year.

"I want to go back. Like badly," Taj told us. "It felt like I was an adult."

On a baseball field in White Bear Lake, the Wongs are just getting back to some sense of normal watching their second grader, Mathew, from the sidelines after a long school year also spent at home.

"I think the last time we talked we were having issues with Alyssa now being stuck in the house so long that she didn't want to leave anymore," Zoua Vang, their mom, told us.

Alyssa's rare genetic disorder means any kind of sickness can lead to life-threatening seizures.

The Wongs distance learning
(credit: CBS)

"The vaccine was critical for a family like ours because it offers Alyssa that extra protection. Because she couldn't protect herself," Vang said.

Vang walked away from her career this past fall to be able to care for her three kids this year.

And, while they admit Alyssa's anxiety is getting better, they're hoping summer school will help her get back on track in the classroom.

"We're excited about that, but nervous, it's like the first day of school," Vang said.

The Wongs will also keep up with noticeable safeguards to keep their daughter and sister safe.

"He doesn't want to take the risk of exposing himself to anything so he keeps the mask nearby when he's in a group setting," Wong said.

As a summer season marks the start of a new playbook, for all parents.

The Wong family also told us they've noticed their boys have slipped a bit academically this year, too but they think they'll be able to make up for it next year.

They once wondered how their second grader figured out how to spell so well, only to discover he had been cutting and pasting his homework into Google to check it all first.


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