Increase in learning pods due to online school

PHOTO: Learning pods have cropped up throughout Davis, such as Hannah Sheaffer’s second grade pod.

By Emily Prussel, Staff–

Learning pods are small in-person groups of students learning together with the help of a tutor or teacher. Many parents have created learning pods to give their children educational and social support in a 100 percent distance learning environment.

Hannah Sheaffer, a UC Davis student hired to teach a second grade pod, helps students complete their online assignments five mornings a week.

Sheaffer says the pods are working well for most kids — but not for all. “I have noticed some children find pods more distracting than others and don’t work as well when they are not in a normal classroom setting, especially since pods are typically formed from groups of close friends,” Sheaffer said.

For Davis parent Katie Frank, the learning pod led by Sheaffer has been a lifesaver. “Me and my husband both work so we needed someone to help our kids with their online classes as well as we wanted them to have some social interaction,” Frank said.

Bechak Tsai has a child in Sheaffer’s pod as well. “My son Gavin is in the pod mostly for social reasons. I want him to still see peers in a safe setting,” Tsai said. “Also, I have a three-year-old and it’s basically impossible to keep the little one from Zoom bombing all day.”

Elodia Alvarez, director of the Academic Center at Davis High, mentioned how learning pods are “helping students socialize which is very important since this is their time to be social and interact with others.” The children who are not in learning pods won’t be getting the same academic and emotional support. 

Alvarez does not think learning pods will be equitable for all. Many families cannot afford to put their child in a pod and so learning pods will not be in favor of every student. “If I was a parent who could not get my child the support they need to do their schoolwork/socialize I would definitely feel the urge to send my child back to school so they can get the support they needed,” Alvarez said.

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