Published Date: 08/04/20
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When setting up a pandemic pod or microschool, one of your biggest considerations should be what COVID-19 protocols you’re establishing. These protocols may look different for every individual pod, but all members and educators should agree to them prior to signing on the dotted line.
Your pandemic pod or microschool protocols may include masks, social distancing, and periodic testing. It may even include an agreement for how families and educators behave outside of the pod. But, despite the measures you set up, you may find yourself in a situation where someone within the pandemic pod or someone adjacent to it, like a parent, tests positive, and you need to plan for those scenarios in advance.
COVID-19 testing within a pandemic pod or microschool
Within your pandemic pod or microschool, you should establish when members and educators are required to get tested. Below are examples of how you may determine testing guidelines:
- Every two weeks regardless of known exposure
- Only when a child or the pod educator has known exposure
- Only when a parent or other live-in family member has known exposure
- Only when a pod member has a parent or other live-in family member test positive
Remember to determine in advance if you will pay for your educator’s tests or if they are expected to pay for them out-of-pocket – a factor that may be determined by your pod leader’s status as an employee or independent contractor.
As testing in some areas may not be easily available and results may take days to get, you’ll need to account for when it’s necessary to quarantine from the pod when awaiting test results. This should likely include if a child or parent has known exposure to COVID-19 but may not necessarily include if you’re testing periodically without it.
Children’s attendance within a pandemic pod or microschool
There are any number of reasons a child maybe absent from a pandemic pod or microschool, including COVID-19 exposure, positive COVID-19 test, other illness, or other situations where a parent may decide to keep a child home for a day or a period of time.
Within your pod or microschool contract, you should account for each scenario that may occur and determine if a family is responsible for payment during that time.
Pod leader attendance within a pandemic pod or microschool
As with children, it’s possible that a pod leader is absent for one or more pod or microschool sessions. Again, this could be due to a positive COVID-19 test and lead to an extended quarantine and absence, or due to something relatively minor, like car troubles, leaving you without a pod leader for just a day.
Agree in advance among families and your educator when your pod leader will and won’t get paid if they are absent. These may include:
- Positive COVID-19 tes
- Known exposure to COVID-19
- Absence due to another illness
- Absences due to extenuating circumstances
Substitutes within a pandemic pod or microschool
While school districts have pools of substitute they can call on when a teacher will be absent, tutors and educators within pandemic pods are unlikely to have that network.
You, the other families in your pod, and your educator will need to come to an agreement on when a substitute is needed, who is responsible for finding that substitute, if that substitute needs to undergo any COVID-19 testing, and when a teacher needs to be permanently replaced because of an extended absence.
If you are using an educator from a tutoring company, speak with them about a backup plan should your educator be absent. If not, you may want to speak with your tutor about creating a network of others he or she can call on if they are unable to attend a session or will be absent for an extended period of time.
The bottom line
Pandemic pods and microschools can be a great tool to help parents navigate education during COVID-19 school closures. Thinking through various scenarios that may happen within your pod and creating plans in advance will ensure strife and stress don’t occur and children can continue learning as seamlessly as possible. To create or find a great pod, start your search on Paper Pinecone, the best resource for pods, microschools, and tutors.
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