In Pandemic’s Wake, Learning Pods and Microschools Take Root

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This article is part of our latest Learning special report, which focuses on ways that remote learning will shape the future.In March, when the coronavirus shut down schools in Portland, Ore., Juliet Travis was desperate to find ways to engage her 12-year-old son. The public schools’ remote-learning efforts were hit-or-miss at best, she said, so she signed him up for Outschool, which provides live, virtual classes and allows students to invite their friends to join them.“I was trying to keep his education going and make it fun,” she said.This fall, Ms. Travis and the parents of several of her son’s friends decided to create some semblance of school. “We podded up,” she said. In addition to Outschool classes, Ms. Travis hired a retired teacher to go to their homes once a week and augment the public school’s history and English curriculum. And a trainer from a local gym conducts physical education classes twice a week in a driveway or garage.The cost of these learning pods varies, and Ms. Travis said hers was $40 per week per child for the teacher and the fitness trainer. Outschool classes average $10 per class, and families in financial need can …

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