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Parents turn to retired teachers, tutors for school help during pandemic

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 17:45:59-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Just weeks from the start of the new school year, some parents are still scrambling to find a safe alternative to help their kids learn this fall. Whether virtual-based or eLearning, some families are turning to tutors or retired teachers for help with school during the pandemic.

“I don’t want to send my kids given the level of uncertainty that still exists to this day,” said Ashley Thompson.

Instead, Thompson’s two daughters will return to school as eLearners. She’s also exploring other avenues, like forming a small pod of students in her neighborhood.

“I’m thinking maybe we’re looking at options of having a couple of the other families kind of get together where the tutor can assist them as well,” said Thompson.

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Jessica Schoenfeld is a certified teacher who says she gets six or seven calls a day from parents asking for help guiding their students. Schoenfeld transitioned her music school into mini classrooms to give students school support.

Students are spaced out with up to 14 kids across three rooms.

“What I would do if I have multiple students on eLearning, I would circulate the classroom like a classroom teacher would and help push in and help students with their assignments,” said Schoenfeld. “Then I’d also provide enrichment as far as art, music, and PE.”

Schoenfeld says they will have precautions, like temperature checks, and the smaller groups still give students the benefit of socializing with other kids. She says requests for at-home help are in high demand, too.

“Anything that parents can do to get assistance, even if it’s after the school day ends, they’re looking for help,” said Schoenfeld. “Parent's jobs [are] not necessarily to teach their kids subjects that they haven’t done in 10 or 20 years. Their goal is to get help kids need so they're staying on track as much as possible.”

Thompson explained her family is still working through the details and what would work best, but she hopes her kids staying home will help those students who can’t.

“I’m hopeful that it affords those kids the opportunity to attend in-person with smaller class sizes to improve social distancing,” said Thompson.