Families adapt, rise to challenges of virtual learning

Bodhi, 6, spends his day logged into virtual public school on a laptop provided by the state.

 

Brevard County’s stay-at-home mandate in March 2020 left parents of schoolchildren scrambling with a new challenge: how to educate their children.

“When they went on spring break last year, they never came back,” said Amy Kloes of Viera. “That’s when the schools closed. Then they did this weird home learning plan that was horrendous. This year was a lot better.

“We live in a split family,” added Kloes, who works from home. “My ex-husband doesn’t live far from me. We had to purchase technology and get them set up (at both houses).”

Once the schools reopened, the Kloes family decided to keep their children at home and enroll in the Brevard Public Schools eLearning program due to health concerns.

“We also noticed that our kids weren’t talking to anybody. It was weighing on their mental health due to lack of peer interaction.”

One year later, the girls went back to school.

“I think it’s more important for them to be in school even though it’s high risk,” Kloes said.

Students don’t have the same interaction and understanding online as when in class.

“In person just seems better because at least I get to get out of the house,” said Jessica Kloes, 16, a 10th grader at Viera High School.

Her sister also wanted to get back to school.

“Going to school is a lot easier for me because I can get hands-on help from my teachers. But, also seeing friends is a big one, too,” said Amanda Kloes, 13, an eighth grader at Kennedy Middle School.

Homeschooling families have been impacted by the pandemic, perhaps not academically, but socially.

One homeschooling mom, Faith Bianchi of Viera, moved to Brevard County from San Diego in February 2020.

“When we came (to Florida) before everything shut down, we met people through a family member who did Classical Conversations (a once-a-week homeschool cooperative). I visited, and we made some friends and contacts.”

After the stay-at-home order, Bianchi set up Zoom calls so her daughter could visit with friends in California, but it was difficult for them to interact.

“She’s really social, and it is hard for her not to see people besides me, her father and her baby brother,” Bianchi said.

From mid-March into the summer, she only saw family and two friends they had made since moving.

“There were even times during the pandemic we didn’t even do that because we got concerned,” she said.

In the fall, Bianchi enrolled her daughter in Classical Conversations. She also enrolled her daughter in dance and music classes. She attends a small Sunday school class at her church.

Bianchi homeschools her daughter on days the cooperative does not meet.

“We were able to meet consistently once a week. There were a few times we did not meet if someone tested positively, but that’s been rare,” Bianchi said.