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What is a Learning POD?

Millions of children are going to school online because of COVID-19. Parents trying to balance child care and education are turning to learning pods. Jim Sergent, USA TODAY Updated 1:34 p.m. EDT Sep. 22, 2020

Some parents who weren't satisfied with the virtual end to the 2019-20 school year are turning to learning pods at the start of the 2020-21 school year to ensure a bit of in-person education and socialization for their children.

The pods, sometimes called micro-schools, are often a group of students learning online in a shared learning space led by an adult — either a tutor paid to supervise and assist the students or a rotation of parents.

Sometimes the pods are just for socializing, where a handful of students get together with, at times, a hired facilitator.

Regardless the purpose, trust among the families is key. "There is a lot of transparency in our pod, which is very crucial for this to even work," Vikram Iyengar says about their four-child pod in Austin.


Pods generally consist of three to 10 students. These smaller groups essentially create a social bubble, letting younger students have much-needed play time, according to Dr. Carlos Lerner at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

“We are starting to see the impacts of social isolation, including increased anxiety," Lerner says. "The isolation and the overall disruption in routines are combining to create issues for kids, and schools haven’t had the time to replace it with a well-thought-out plan.”

That finding is underscored by a study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies in 2012. Researchers followed dozens of children into adulthood and found positive social relationships, not stellar academic performance, led more often to happier adults.

Here are some photos of local students who have formed a 7th grade pod

Local families rallied together and created a fun learning environment and a 1st grade Pod!

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