HERNDON, Va. — Many school districts in the DMV region have already announced they will begin the 2020-2021 school year with 100% online learning. Stressed parents said they are now scrambling for options on how to hold down jobs with kids trying to learn at home.
One developing trend is parents pooling resources to create what they are calling “learning pods." Parents of second graders at Dranesville Elementary school in Fairfax County are pooling resources to hire a tutor.
“What we started doing was pooling our resources with other moms to kind of form what we used to do when the kids were babies, which was like a nanny share," Angela North, who is the single mom of a 7-year-old daughter, said. "But this would be more of a tutor or teacher share so it would help with the cost for those of us that couldn’t afford a private tutor."
According to the Dranesville moms, some parents have been organizing through their PTA. Others have made contact through girl scout groups or neighborhood friends.
Across the nation, others are turning to Facebook groups like the California- based page Pandemic Pods and Microschools.
Parents use the page to form regional and local groups in other states like Maryland and New York. Notably, there are posts from teachers and tutors who are looking to connect.
Meanwhile, there is currently some opportunity to enroll children in traditional child care and aftercare programs even though the industry is suffering through financial meltdown and chaos, according to Jennifer Arniaz, who directs Early Childhood Services and the Child Care Resource & Referral Center for the Department of Health & Human Services in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Arniaz said only 47% of licensed aftercare and school-aged child care providers in Montgomery County have reopened in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis shutdowns in Maryland, although more are expected to open up with financial assistance from the county and the state.
However, she said many parents are not returning children to child care facilities because of job loss, financial strain or virus fears, creating opportunities for parents who act quickly.
“Today, those providers have vacancies but a month from now I think we’ll be in a scramble," Arniaz said.
Maryland residents can tap into a free statewide child care locator resource operated by the Maryland Family Network online or by talking to a counselor by phone at 877-261-0060.