online, homework
During the pandemic, more students are using online learning tools. Photo credit: Darlena Cunha / WhoWhatWhy

With schools closed, parents are stepping in as educators, and teachers have tips to help make it work.

In all but four states, schools have been shuttered for the rest of the year. That means parents, teachers, and students alike are doing their work from home.

While many teachers miss their classrooms and wish things could get back to normal, they agree with the decision to call school off indefinitely. It’s too hard to remain socially distant in a school building, particularly with younger students who don’t understand why they cannot hug or hold hands. Teachers also worry that masked faces might scare the students. 

Generation Z is a lot more used to online interaction than they are to gloves and masks, said fourth grade teacher Haley Courts. 

However, she worries about economically stressed families — the ones who don’t have easy access to the internet and other technology, and the ones in which parents must continue to go to work in order to afford enough food for their children. During normal operations, Courts’s school had provided breakfast and lunch through its free food program for disadvantaged families. Although meals can still be picked up once a day, coordinating pickup times can itself be a strain on working families. For those without access to childcare, managing all the requirements of homeschooling can be a recipe for disaster. 

Still, many are making it work, and the teachers are there to help. WhoWhatWhy spoke to some of them about how to handle the course load and how to help young students in this trying time. With weeks left in the school year, there is a light at the end of the online-school tunnel.


  • Darlena Cunha

    Darlena Cunha is the election integrity program manager for WhoWhatWhy. She is also a journalism professor at the University of Florida and contributes to publications such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic.

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