What will working parents do on the days their children will be learning from home? Some of those who can afford it are hiring help.
Jeffrey Hahn is a retired teacher and experienced math tutor, who is now advertising his services to parents looking to form what they call pods: small groups of children who will work in-person with a tutor, guiding them through their school’s remote learning curriculum.
“This isn’t a homeschool, so I'm supporting the teacher and the teacher’s curriculum,” he said.
Ads seeking tutors for this kind of arrangement are all over websites where parents look for child care.
Hahn’s teaming up with an English tutor, and speaking to potential pod parents about offering two-hour math lessons twice a week. In addition to providing direct help to students, the supervision means parents can get work done, and relieves them of the stress of trying to teach their own children algebra.
"These are very, very bright, educated adults and they’re like, you know, ‘Pythagorean theorem, A squared and B squared and C squared, I never thought I’d do this one again,’” he said.
Rates vary, but Hahn notes it’s a cheaper set-up than his one-on-one services.
“I’m the kind of tutor that would normally get around $100 an hour as a private tutor. If you're looking at a group of three to four kids working, an average might be something $200 a student a week, but that would be for four hours,” Hahn said.
Graduate students charge less, he said, but even their prices are higher than what many parents of public school children can afford. About 73 percent of students in public schools are economically disadvantaged.
"Unfortunately, this type of individual pod for these types of students is something that a lower income family won’t have the money to do,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the city’s Education Department acknowledged parents face a child care challenge, saying they're, "gravely concerned with the ways in which this pandemic is exacerbating inequities."
The city has promised 100,000 seats of free child care for days when students are remote, but so far there have been few details, leading some to worry the most vulnerable will fall further behind.
"Everybody agrees at this point that the pandemic has increased the vast inequities that already exist,” said David Bloomfield, an education professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and Brooklyn College. “Nobody wants to hold back kids whose families do have the resources for some sort of enhanced opportunities, but kids, especially children with handicaps, those learning English, those who are home insecure, are really going to not be able to take advantage of these things that just cost money.”