As the coronavirus pandemic continues, learning pods are a popular option for working parents who need help with remote education, and in south suburban Olympia Fields, Kristal Davis has opened her doors to families for the first time.
Davis has been homeschooling her own children for years. She even transformed her basement into a classroom. Recently however, she noticed parents in her own community struggling to find childcare and is now extending her curriculum to others in what she's calling a home school co-op.
"We’re covering all the subjects in a day. They’re getting exercise. They’re getting outdoor time," said Davis. "Because of the pandemic, I decided there would be kids with no supervision. I have the space,. I’m here. I felt this was the right time to do it."
One of her new students, Drake, was supposed to start pre-school this year in the Matteson school district. The 3-year-old is immunocompromised, and his parents decided they couldn't take the risk of sending him to a traditional school.
"This was by far the very best option we had and also could afford," said Crystal Jamaeu, Drake's mom.
Jameau is 8-months pregnant and works from home. She says it would be "nearly impossible" to keep Drake occupied without help.
"We decided to put him here so he could still play with other children, have the experience of at least going to some form of school, but not necessarily in an environment that would expose him to the virus," said Jameau.
Learning pods are growing in popularity because of the small class sizes and in-person offerings. Socialization is also important to many parents.
Davis says safety is a priority. She expects her families to follow CDC guidelines and be honest about activities outside of the pod. If families go out of town, she also expects them to take a coronavirus test before returning.