LANSING, Mich. — Many schools across the country are moving to "remote learning"as COVID cases continue to break records. Alexa Liacko met a family with 6 children that's getting ready for a winter all together at home.
Montage of kids at home: You guys want lunch? The Robinson’s home is now a cafeteria. How many do you want? Kids, I want a classroom. “You wanna clear off your workspace so i can put plates there?” And a gym. “Down to the side!”
The family’s six children are in five different grade levels spanning from kindergarten to high school. Kids counting in the back while Riker is working. At the beginning of the school year, some of the kids did in-person learning for part of the week.
Alexi Robinson, "I was very grateful when they were able to go to school." But with COVID-19 cases spiking this winter, all 6 are indefinitely back to remote learning. The decision dropped a heavy weight on mom Alexi Robinson.
"I was like, ‘close the restaurants, close the mall, close everything. just please let's keep the kids in school because it's, it's just so hard, it's so hard and so frustrating. I just want to, just break down and cry."
Robinson and her husband both work full time to support their family. "I leave before they're awake for the day." My husband is gone sunup to sundown every day. He travels a lot out of town as well.
Robinson says her older kids have been taking on the teaching role while she and her husband work. "I couldn't do it without them, but then i don't want them to suffer either. They get reprimanded by their teachers, you know, if they're late or if they leave for a second or whatever else and so it's hard.
Riker, a freshman in high school, and Halle, a sixth grader, say they’re struggling in their own classes just to help their siblings. Riker Robinson, "9th grade you just can't focus. like sometimes you're on remote by yourself, and you still can't focus. but you know with the kids around, it's noisy. they’re like, ‘can you answer this question. you there?’ and you’re like, ‘be quiet!!’ ‘I'm here. can you hear me?’ You know it's like: ‘you don't answer, I'm going to take off points’
It's just hard. You got to understand it's really hard.they say being both a teacher and a student is taking a serious mental toll. Halle Robinson, 6th grade "because they're so little, they don't understand when we need to work. Riker Robinson, 9th grade I'm used to being kind of like the oldest, and you know, the babysitter. But this is like a whole "nother level just like stress and it’s just getting…just difficult."
It’s especially tough because the two youngest children are in special education for speech therapy. Alexi Robinson shared that "It's harder for them to stay caught up without that extra help of the live teachers, so they could they all could potentially fall behind.
Falling behind is a concern for families across the country. You sure that’s today and note tomorrow? Teachers like Lindsay Datko are fighting to help. "If they miss those developmental windows, it will take them years to overcome habits that were poorly formed for the average student." So we will see the effects of this for years to come if we don't act now.
Datko is tutoring students who are doing remote learning, "look at your spelling"! She’s been working with local leaders for months to give families a chance to choose whether in person or remote learning works best for their students.
Lindsay Datko explained "the whole spectrum is struggling, and we can do something. there is one remedy and that's in person learning. "I know that there are teachers who are truly fearful for different reasons and we respect that."
We are pushing for the choice. The Robinson’s are hoping the new year will bring them the choice to send their children to school. I know that they do a lot better in school. I hope that we can get through it, because they’re not sure how much longer this homegrown classroom can last.
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