“Pandemic pods” aim to provide stability to Colorado families worried about COVID-hampered schooling | VailDaily.com

“Pandemic pods” aim to provide stability to Colorado families worried about COVID-hampered schooling

John Aguilar, Denver Post
Katie, left, Brian, and Eisley Abrams, 5, try to catch grasshoppers in their neighborhood in Fort Collins on Friday, July 31, 2020. Katie is trying to form a learning pod with other families to give her child stability as Poudre School District starts its year.
Valerie Mosley, Special to the Denver Post

The unprecedented uncertainty whipped up by COVID-19 just weeks before the start of the school year is prompting an increasing number of parents to pursue what amounts to an academic side hustle — small-group “learning pods” that families hope will bring some stability amidst the chaos of a global pandemic.

“I think it comes down to uncertainty — and I think the only certain thing is that last spring did not go well,” said Julie Simmons, a Boulder mom who administers the Boulder Valley School District Learning Pods Facebook page. “A lot of parents are really anxious about how to make the school year work.”

That anxiety has only mounted as various school districts in the state devise different approaches to reopening later this month, ranging from 100% in-person instruction to full remote learning to a mix of the two. In the three weeks since Simmons helped create the pod Facebook page, she already has gotten interest from more than 2,000 parents looking to set up or join a learning group — sometimes referred to as a “pandemic pod.”

The pod phenomenon is new, arising from the chaos that many parents experienced in the spring trying to do their jobs while overseeing their children’s education after schools closed en masse in March as the coronavirus began its spread. The concept can take different forms, from the establishment of formal “mini-schools” that operate out of a rented space to simply two or more families using their homes to share schooling, tutoring or child care costs.

“The aim is to keep contact circles small and safe in this pandemic while providing much needed support to families and children,” states the nocopods.org website, which was created barely a week ago and serves Weld and Larimer counties. “It takes a village, right?”

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