RICHMOND, Va. -- For many families in Central Virginia, the start of the 2020-2021 school year will be different.
Chesterfield, Henrico, and Richmond Schools have all decided to have their first nine weeks virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We really had to put our thinking hat on, and really be creative and think about the skill sets that both my husband and I brought to the table thinking about the needs of our family," TQ Evans said.
TQ and her husband Adam Evans decided that with their boys learning from home, they wanted to teach them in a way that would cater to how boys learn and give them an opportunity to learn things they normally wouldn't while in the classroom.
Adam Evans, who recently retired from a 15-year teaching career, said their family faced some medical emergencies this year and with COVID 19, he knew his family needed to come first.
"That was probably one of the hardest things that I've had to do, to make that decision to choose between my career, my profession ...or choosing family. And I chose family," he said.
The Evans family now has a learning pod catering to boys.
A learning pod is essentially a small group of neighborhood kids learning together.
The Evans plan to teach six students, kindergarten through third grade.
Their boys' learning pod will be a new kind of learning environment. One where students will learn more about the community, what it means to be a good citizen, and form a love of nature.
"One of the awesome parts about it is sometimes in public education, we're not able to touch on some of the topics that we know such as social justice, and, or certain perspectives and on history, really trying to have more of a community sense, while still touching on that social-emotional side as well," Evans said.
Just down the street from the boys' learning pod shines a little rainbow.
"I don't think there's a single thing we've done where it's just a traditional way," Desarae Wisnoski, with Rainbow Pod, said.
The Rainbow Pod caters to kids in pre-k.
Wisnoski, who has her child enrolled in the Rainbow Pod, said the idea emerged after a mutual friend connected her with TQ.
"I was like, 'Hey, I have a pre-K that I'm really trying to get ready and find something for,' and so did she, and it kind of organically worked out," she said. "We were like well let's come together and we might as well do two pods, and she ended up naming our's little rainbow pod and it fit perfectly because we have such inclusivity and diversity within both of our pods."
The Rainbow Pod has been operating for a few weeks now, while the boys' pod is set to start on September 8.
Both groups work very closely together and follow COVID-19 guidelines and openly communicate whether they have been in large social gatherings.
"Don't be afraid to think outside of the box," the pod leaders advise families. "The children are just as anxious and just as stressed as the parents and to have patience with yourself and with your children."
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