There’s a dark cloud hanging over the current school year. You already know all about it: COVID-19.
As hopes for a vaccine carry on and states all over continue to lessen — or harshen — restrictions, there’s a lot of uncertainty out there.
Luckily, here in the Lone Star State, the average number of cases are decreasing. But unfortunately in Austin and the surrounding Central Texas area, we don’t seem to be singing the same tune.
As a parent, one of the questions on all of our minds is, “Is it safe for my child to be at school?”
It’s not our place to tell you the answer. (But we do know coming to an answer involves a long and complicated process of weighing pros and cons. And no one answer seems perfect right now.)
What we can say is that during times of uncertainty, it’s always good practice to have a backup plan in place.
That way, you and your child are well-equipped to handle whatever uncertainty the next few days, weeks, months, and even years may throw your way.
Having a backup plan will ensure you can sleep well at night, with much less stress and anxiety, knowing you are prepared for whatever comes next.
“What Are My Options?”
I know it may seem obvious, but it’s good to cover our bases. The easiest way to describe a backup plan is that it’s your plan for when something bad happens.
In this case, COVID is the bad thing that could happen. Whether it means your school shutting down completely, going to remote learning, or (God forbid) someone close to you falling ill.
In any of these scenarios, we’ll want to make sure we have our backup plan ready to go. If you don’t know where to even start, look no further.
Here are some backup plans for the school year.
Two Backup Plans to Put in Place Today
Backup Plan #1: Learning Pod
A learning pod is a safe and effective way to teach your child.
It consists of a small group of students who study together regularly in a shared space. These learning pods function as micro-schools, where a few families choose to teach their children together in the same setting each day, with the appropriate teacher leading these daily learning sessions.
The simplest way to form a learning pod is to find 4-6+ learners in the same grade, with similar classes and learning levels, under the supervision of the same teacher or tutor.
Another option is to form a mixed-age learning pod, with 4-6+ learners, who vary in ages, schools, and classes. Just like the same grade learners, these children would meet every school day, under the supervision of a teacher or tutor, while taking their online classes together.
One of the biggest current criticisms of the learning pod structure is that they aren’t a suitable replacement for public school, because expensive pods can price out lower income families. While it’s true that some pods can be costly (and there’s just no replacement for a quality, free education), with enough students in the classes, pods can actually be quite cost effective. And because there’s no strict formula or criteria for how to form a pod, virtually anyone can customize them according to their needs.
To get the full rundown on how a Learning Pod works, check out our blog post here.
And if you’re located in Austin, check out our Socially Distanced Learning Pods as an alternate option for the upcoming semester!
Backup Plan #2: Online Tutoring
Online tutoring is a great way to make sure your child can get the one-on-one assistance they need to be successful this school year.
You may not have the time or resources to dedicate a whole day to teaching your child their lesson plans. Many of us are working from home, and now learning at home poses a challenge.
For those who have access to the right technology, there is evidence that learning online with a tutor can be more effective in a number of ways.
This research shows that on average, students retain 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom. This is mostly due to the students being able to learn faster online.
It’s reported that e-learning requires 40-60% less time to learn than in a traditional classroom setting because students can learn at their own pace, going back and re-reading, skipping, or accelerating through concepts as they choose.
An online tutor who can offer your student that one-on-one attention only adds to the benefits as well.
You can read our full blog post on online tutoring here.
The great news about this is that tutoring organizations, like Jill’s Tutors, have taken their services online!
Jill’s Tutors offers private, one-on-one, virtual online tutoring with our network of experienced teachers, educators, and professional tutors. Go here for more information.
Now your child is able to safely learn from home and you can safely work from home with no interruptions. Plus, your child will get the hands-on attention they need. Instead of relying on a hard-working teacher balancing 20+ children in a Zoom call, Google classroom, or any other online learning format.