Parents are teachers, too, as COVID-19 sends some students 100% online
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With about a dozen Steamboat Springs Middle School seventh graders living in the same small section of an Old Town neighborhood, the families made a collective decision to opt for the school district’s 100% remote learning option.
They also organized Parents are Teachers Too (PATT).
“We have doctors, nurses, small business owners, entrepreneurs, engineers, builders — all amazing experts,” parent Robin Hall said.
Several days a week, one parent hosts the group in an outdoor, socially-distanced classroom for a two-hour session on whatever they consider to be under their expertise
Cerasoli, a nurse in the emergency department at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, taught a “Stop the Bleed” class.
That was a major highlight for Hall’s son, 9-year-old Alex. He described fake blood squirting up through skin-like putty and learning about a tourniquet.
Cerasoli’s husband, Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli, teaches math every Thursday.
The kids also learn personal finance, and one parent is the mountain bike expert who taught wheelies, Alex said.
They have a book club, rock climbing and yoga.
They are planning to adapt safely for winter, Cerasoli said. They may divide into smaller groups. She mentioned plans for a ski day and cooking class.
Every morning, the group meets for a morning walk. One kid is assigned the megaphone, responsible for morning announcements about the week’s schedule, weather, a joke and word of the day.
Between the communal lessons and the morning walks, “It’s been a pretty fun way for kids to socialize while still working at home and doing online learning,” Hall said.
Beginning last spring, Hall and Cerasoli realized they now had a much bigger role in their children’s education. Where they used to leave it up to the school, “Now everyone is stepping up to a place where we are responsible for are children’s education,” Cerasoli said. “And it’s been really fun.”
There are a number of factors that made the decision the right one for them, said Hall and Cerasoli. First, the amazing coincidence in the number of seventh graders living so close together.
“My husband and I are lucky enough to work from home,” Hall said.
“We try to be pretty structured,” Hall added. They lay out the schedule in the morning, and the boys do a lot of the work on their own. Hall said they know they can interrupt any time they get stuck.
Alex, who is younger than the rest of the group, also has a friend in his grade who lives nearby.
“That’s been really helping me get motivated,” Alex said, “or when I’ve been gone. She helps me catch up and get focused.”
The hope is this only lasts for this semester, both Hall and Cerasoli said.
“All I want is for school to go back to normal,” Hall said. “We made the right decision for us in September, and hopefully, we will be back in person in January.”
The Hall family started with two goals for remote learning: keeping an education mindset — a learning mindset, Hall said. “And that don’t kill each other.”
They are achieving both, she said, but it is hard.
“Every three weeks, I say to them — ‘I’m sorry you had to grow up so fast. … They have so much responsibility.”
The Remote Learning Option
The Steamboat Springs School District chose to partner with the online learning company Edgenuity.
Both Hall and Cerasoli said they wanted to stay with the district but were unsure of the continuity between the hybrid model and the potential scenario if one student in a cohort testing positive — and what exactly that 100% at-home version of the district’s plan would look like.
In terms of an assessment of the Edgenuity program, Hall said it’s different for her two boys. Alex, 9, has a lot more hands on activities. Their older son, Will, is 12. He spends a lot more time watching videos.
The flexibility is nice, Hall said, “But Edgenuity is no comparison to being in-person with all the amazing teachers in this town.”
Cerasoli said the PATT lessons help make up for some of the extracurriculars they are missing in school.
“It was a better solution for us as a group,” Cerasoli said. “It was a hard decision to make. And I don’t think any decision is a bad decision. It’s whatever works for a family.”
Cerasoli descried the process of the kids and parents adapting to online as a roller coaster, mostly with a steady incline.
“We all need to have so much empathy for each other,” Hall said. “Teachers are working so hard. Parents are juggling so much. We all have to give ourselves some leeway.”
“We have to make do,” Cerasoli said. “And hopefully, things change after Christmas.”
“Now more than ever it takes a village,” Hall said. “And this town is a village.”
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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