Like-minded families form ‘learning pods’ for virtual schooling

Learning pods gives students a chance to socialize

More parents are opting to create small learning groups for virtual learning. The groups are made up of students whose families are taking similar precautions against COVID-19.

SAN ANTONIO – With many schools moving forward with distance learning this fall, parents are trying to figure out how they’ll continue to work while making sure their child’s education doesn’t fall short at home. A popular alternative to distance learning is the creation of ‘learning pods’.

Rebecca Lewis is a certified teacher and mom of two. Her plans to return to the classroom were cut short due to the pandemic, however, remote instructing was a possibility. Lewis’ career goals changed once again after a Facebook friend added her to the community group QuaranTEACH San Antonio.

“What I noticed is that a lot of people were forming these learning pods and they were looking for certified educators, private tutors to get with a group of four to eight students and facilitate a schedule for them,” Lewis said.

Her interest on the unique educational set up was based on economic need and a desire to provide a balanced educational experience for her daughter.

“I thought, well, that was more of a great fit for our family because I didn’t feel comfortable sending (her) back to school (due to) COVID-19,” Lewis said. “But at the same time, I didn’t want my daughter doing this remote instruction by herself and being isolated so, I thought it was really neat.”

Each pod’s size, schedule and rules are unique. Lewis wanted to keep the pod small with a full day school schedule.

“I decided to put something out on our community neighborhood Facebook page and ask (if anyone) would be interested in (joining) a learning pod,” Lewis said.

Within 24 hours later, Lewis’ six spots were filled but not before an interview process that involved all parents.

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“They wanted to know my credentials, what I would be able to help with (such as) tutoring or what kind of schedule I was looking at doing, but as much as they were interviewing me, I was absolutely interviewing them as well,” Lewis said.

Safety and good hygiene are at the forefront of Lewis’ learning pod. She wanted to make sure they had like-minded beliefs when it came to precautions against COVID-19.

“It still concerns me that I’m inviting, you know, these these six kids into my home every day, but I felt like the benefit outweighed the risk,” Lewis said. “The fact that it was going to be a small group and that these kids were going to be able to interact with each other daily, (is great).”

The students will arrive at Lewis’ home around 7:30 each morning and wrap up their school day closer to 4 p.m., enough time to learn, get homework done and play. There will also be daily cleaning routines implemented.

“Each day we’re going to have a classroom helper wipe down (areas) with sanitizing wipes and sweep our floors a little bit in creating that classroom community that we would do anyways in a classroom setting,” Lewis said. “Thankfully, all the parents that I talked to said (that) even if there’s a little sniffle, (they’ll) probably be staying home just to be cautious in those ways.”

Learning pods can range from $100 up to $600 a week per child. Parents in search of a teacher or facilitator for the pod are encouraged to do research in their community and create a post of their needs and budget on Facebook groups such as QuaranTEACH San Antonio.

About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.