Anyone who’s used the Internet over the past few weeks has seen the memes expressing just how difficult it’s been for parents to adapt to their kids being around the house far more than usual.
With schools closed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus and families abiding by Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay-at-home order, students and parents are accepting new normals related to work, school, extracurriculars, eating out and more – all together, all the time.
With Olentangy on still-observed spring break through April 3, students, teachers and parents have had two weeks of remote schooling. On the whole, compromise and creativity, along with patience and understanding, have made the adjustment manageable for many families.
“It’s gone pretty well here in the early stages,” said Rachael Beasley, who has two sons: Nate, a 15-year-old freshman at Olentangy Liberty High School, and Isaac, a 9-year-old Indian Springs Elementary School third-grader.
Taking an idea she saw on social media, Beasley created a daily schedule for the boys to provide some structure.
“When we knew the kids weren’t going back to school, I just took our chalkboard and made a schedule for the day,” she said. “I was worried that they wouldn’t listen, but they took to it. There are times we’ve had to be flexible, but it’s been a godsend.”
Beasley’s husband, Bob, always has worked from home and has an established home office. Her own work sent employees home early in March, and she’s since set up a workstation on the dining-room table.
“Isaac is my co-worker in the mornings,” she said.
“We’re lucky that everyone has their own space,” Kathy Evans said.
She and her husband, Doug, both recently transitioned to working from home, while 14-year-old Kelsey, an eighth-grader at Liberty Middle School, and Ryan, a freshman at Ohio University, are learning remotely.
“In some respects, it’s harder for adults,” Doug Evans said. “Kids are digital natives. Sometimes, kids are tech support.”
“Both girls are self-motivated,” Kathy Evans said. “We don’t really have to do anything with or for them. We talk about (schoolwork), but what we know is what they tell us anecdotally.”
Jen Crichfield still is working outside her Powell home, but her husband, Jason, typically works from home, where he now can supervise their daughters, Jordan and Juliana – fourth- and first-graders, respectively, at Wyandot Run Elementary School.
Crichfield said they have instituted a schedule that includes a three-hour morning block of educational work, whether specific directives from teachers or just logging in to apps and online tools they regularly use to augment assignments.
“We have to make sure they take breaks,” she said. “(Jordan) in particular is concerned she’s not going to get all of her work done.”
Jessica Pack also still is working at least some of the time outside the home – but her daughter, Cameron, a sophomore at Berlin High School; her son, Weston, a freshman at the University of Cincinnati; and her husband, Brian, all are working out of the house.
“Brian’s work was always flexible to work from home, but he’s home full time now,” Pack said.
She acknowledged the responsibility to pay closer attention to her children’s schoolwork, especially her high schooler, but also pointed out the nonacademic impact of the current situation – including their inability to celebrate Cameron’s recent 16th birthday as they might have preferred, and the postponing of her cheerleading competition season.
“It’s difficult to fill that void for them as a parent,” Pack said, adding they have compensated with “some spirited family nights.”
“I bought a 1,000-piece puzzle and we’ve been working on that,” Rachel Beasley said, “and if the weather’s nice, I just send them outside.”
“Both girls are signed up to play softball, so Jason has been going out with them and having gym class,” Jen Crichfield said.
Crichfield added the uniqueness of the times adds to the challenges of managing families’ new schedules.
“Jordan has asked some tough questions and I don’t have answers,” she said.
Given the circumstances, though, the Evanses consider themselves fortunate to have access to the needed technology and enough space to be comfortable.
“This is hard, but it could have been so much harder,” Kathy Evans said.