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Learning "pods" highlight wealth disparity in education amid pandemic

Nearly 12 million grade-schoolers will be learning remotely this fall, and that number is expected to keep growing. It's a major source of stress for America's working parents. Some who can afford it are turning to an option called learning pods.

From the classroom to the family room, 80% of the country's largest school districts are moving to remote learning. 

Marina Jurica and Todd Preston have demanding jobs at NASA, and while helping with third-grade math is hardly rocket science, they're desperate for help. They spoke with CBS News about their struggles.

"You have come to the conclusion, like so many others, that you can't do your job and teach your child?" CBS News asked.

"No way I can," Jurica said. "At best, I'm 60% productive."

Suddenly, Jurica is interrupted by her children.

"Is this what your zoom meetings are like?" CBS News asked, as one of Jurica's children hands her a toy. 

"Thank you. This is a beautiful triceratops," Jurica said.

So, they launched a trial run for a learning pod with other families. Together, they're hiring a tutor for 20 hours a week at a cost of $2,500 a month.

"We are very blessed, we are lucky to have the options," said Preston.

But the only option for high school senior Nathan Castillo is to log in to class while frantically working to keep his family's restaurant in business.

"When it gets busy with customers, I won't be able to pay attention to class," Castillo explained.

And paying for a tutor is out of the question.

"It's really causing a disparity in the haves and the have nots," said Jan Glusac, who has been teaching in public school for more than 30 years. 

Now, she's matching qualified teachers with pods. The cost to parents: $40 per hour, per child. But she's looking for sponsors to pay for kids who can't afford it.

"It's probably the best situation that we can make out of what we have," she said. "And there shouldn't be a divide between the haves and the have nots, or between whatever skin color or religion. We're kinda doing that, aren't we?"

"It's just kind of a really horrible side effect that this is having," said Glusac.

With a hard lesson in home economics for everyone.

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