Setting Up a Pandemic Pod for Your Child

"Pandemic" Pods have been helping parents strike balance between safety and socialization since before coronavirus hit. Find out what they are and how you can set one up.

Girl in a mask on her computer

Are your kids craving social interaction with their peers? Pandemic pods might be the key to helping you find happy ground between keeping them safe from coronavirus and getting them the in-person socialization they need.

According to the University of California, Berkeley, pandemic pods are small, self-contained networks of people who limit their non-distanced social interaction to one another”.

The long-term practice originated as social group learning, but really took off during the pandemic, and extended to day-to-day schooling, as well.

How does it work?

To organize a pod, parents who know each other through work, church or other interactions, simply gather their kids in small groups. These groups must consist of 4-8 students to qualify as a learning pod.

This process is entirely individualized based on how the group wants their kids to learn, but once a plan is decided on, they can go through the at-home teaching platform, Schoolhouse, to be matched with a counselor and teacher for the year.

According to Joseph Connor, a senior partner at Schoolhouse, teachers from Schoolhouse go through a highly-selective process and four levels of interviews before being added to the pool that pandemic pod teachers are chosen from.

Teachers are assigned a pod based on the group’s grade, location and educational experience. Parents in the pod are given extensive teacher profiles, which include a resume, pictures, interview notes and videos of them teaching, to ensure the right fit.

Once teachers are selected to lead the pod, they provide ongoing academic support to the students in the pod.

“Unlike at a traditional school, material can be covered at a much faster pace (in a pod),” Connor explains. “Pods balance accountability and a standard of autonomy. A lot of parents love the partnership they have with the teacher (because) this is the first time they’ve had this much insight and vision into what is being taught.”

What to consider

Do you think a pandemic pod might be the right fit for you and your student? Connor recommends you consider the following when setting up your pod:

  1. Education philosophy. It’s important for everyone to communicate and be on the same page. A first-grade pod in Chicago isn’t going to look the same as a first-grade pod in Detroit. Talk to other parents and figure out what you want out of the pandemic pod.
  2. Location. Everyone involved should be from the same area so that you can easily meet up for instruction.
  3. COVID safety guidelines. Schoolhouse is transparent and candid in talking to parents about what the guidelines in their area look like as well as having everyone sign off on a contract to ensure that those guidelines are met. You should know what your guidelines are prior to reaching out to Schoolhouse so you know what you can expect.

For those who don’t know where to start, you can learn more about pandemic pods at getschoolhouse.com. There, you can find information on all their services and a FAQ for any unanswered questions.

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