Thousands of families across metro Detroit are officially starting the school year on Tuesday, and for many that means learning at home.
“This is Nora’s desk area. So she’s got her little Chromebook and we just have some classroom stuff on the wall," said Stephani LaBelle via Zoom. Her two daughters Nora and Anna are learning remotely this fall in the Gross Pointe Public School system.
LaBelle turned the "play room" at home into their classroom, with separate areas for both girls to learn during the day.
“Once they went virtual in the spring we kind of set up a routine for them and we never really stopped," she said.
Back-to-school for Richard Stewart's granddaughter Lauren means learning right next to "Pop Pop" in the living room; he's helping with Lauren's schooling while her mother works full time as a medical assistant.
“It was an adjustment to try and get an 8-year-old to sit down and do the schooling when she wanted to play," he said. Lauren is learning virtually in the Southgate Community School District.
Chalana Moye's daughter Mikayla is starting second grade Tuesday in Livonia Public Schools. Moye hopes that creating a more formal physical space will make things feel like traditional school, and will also allow for easier access if Mikayla needs help navigating her virtual classroom. Moye, who is working from home right now, has her desk set-up right next to Mikayla's.
And like so many other parents working from home, both Moye and LaBelle relate to feeling like they're always at work. Moye said drawing hard boundaries with her time has been necessary during this pandemic.
“4:30-5 o’clock I punch out of all my jobs," she told Action News. "That includes being teacher, that includes being application coordinator. Then I’m just Mom.”
As for Stewart, his time management during the school day is mostly scheduled; Southgate has provided guidance on that with respect to Lauren's class instruction. However gym class is really left up to him, and he's getting creative while the weather is still nice.
“I got some bean bags for corn hole toss and we’re going to put some buckets down. She’s got a basketball rim, we’re going to go ahead and use that. And hopefully she’s got a jump rope. Just something to keep her active," he told Action News.