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New, local PODS help families socialize, learn during remote schooling

Many families are looking for safe ways for their kids to play with other children

ROANOKE, Va. – Many families are looking for safe ways for their kids to get time with other kids their age. If your kids are going to school online they may be missing out on some of the social time.

Emma Stout has four boys who love playing with friends but then COVID hit.

“Really I don’t have anybody to play with except my brothers,” said 4th grader Elijah who is doing all virtual learning along with his brother who’s in second grade through Roanoke City schools.

“It’s going to be really important to me to find some kind of group or like minded parents who want to also still socialize their kids but in a safer environment whether it’d just be playdates or some kind of pod,” said Stout.

PODS are a growing concept where families get together to learn or play keeping the circle small and contained to keep the risk of COVID down.

“It’s been hard not being able to go to school. They really are social and that’s really been the hardest part not being able to socialize. Being isolated for so long was really hard on them,” said Stout.

“We’ve had a big increase,” said Wendy Wall who owns Learning and Behavior Specialists and is starting PODS. “Parents are not normally trained to teach children so it can become a frustration level for everyone. We will send a tutor to them to provide instruction and reinforcement of whatever skills their class is working on.”

But not everyone agrees with the concept.

Fairfax County Public Schools put out a warning to families last month about pods saying they may “widen the gap in educational access and equity for all students. Many parents cannot afford private instruction. Many working families can’t provide transportation to and from a tutoring pod, even if they could afford to pay for the service.”


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