Families turning to ‘learning pods’ as alternative to in-person schooling

A dining room table will soon become the center of everyday school work for several groups of Sarasota students, starting August 31.

On top of health concerns, Alex Krumm and his wife, Stevie were worried about how to juggle their family business and the potential of schools closing.

"We were scared of going back to school because of all the coronavirus and the cases," said Alex Krumm. "We feel like schools are going to shut back down or at least it’s a significant likelihood. And we felt this would be a buffer against that."

Instead of going it alone, the Krumms teamed up with two other families to form a learning pod. Their four children will join Bobbi-Jo Donner and Barbara Evy's to become their own small classroom.

Donner's house will now be their school. The kids range from VPK to 5th grade. They will have laptops and are enrolled in their schools' e-learning program so they will log in and be instructed by their teachers. 

A sitter will be in the Donner's home to help keep everyone on track.

"It's a good solution for us, at least for the first part of the year, just to see. Also how the schools are going to deal with infections and if they are going to close down," said Donner.

Parents say the idea of a learning pod eases some of their concerns and has the added benefit of a set routine.

It also gives the kids an environment they know they can control and keep an eye out for COVID-19.

"We are all being smart in what we are doing but we all also know that we can’t just hold up in our homes. We need a good group that we feel comfortable with," said Barbara Evy.

A learning pod can be pricey, but splitting the cost between three families gives them peace of mind.

"It definitely relieves the stress of knowing I am not going to send my kids back to school but they are still going to get social interaction and someone to help them learn the skills that the teacher is giving them," said Stevie Krumm.