Pandemic pods helping North Carolina students learn during COVID-19

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Pandemic pods are becoming more popular with most North Carolina students learning virtually.

Nicole Nesheim and Kristen Votta are co-owners of Raleigh Educational Coaching, providing services including learning pods.

"It's definitely in demand," Votta said. "We feel incredibly grateful that we have been able to do this and we're incredibly grateful to our families that have entrusted the care of their children with us. We don't take that lightly."

FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

They've hired educators to lead pods at their center in Raleigh.

"And try to give the kids a socially-distanced school experience, right," Nesheim said. "We're not a school. We don't have a full school day for them but some sort of opportunity for them to work in small groups."

The Wake County Public School System is welcoming elementary students back to school on a rotating basis starting Monday. With about 85,000 students enrolled in the district's Virtual Academy for remote learning, demand for learning pods will likely continue.

"We do have a strong amount of clients that have said, 'You know we're staying virtual and we want to remain with you,'" Nesheim said.

Nesheim and Votta would not disclose the rates for their learning pods. But some pods can be expensive.

To help working families, Justice Served NC secured funding from Wake County and the YMCA for pods at The Lighthouse Project in Raleigh. Pods are free for parents and will be funded through the spring, said community advocate Diana Powell.

Students socially distance and wear masks. There are tutors on site and parents need to apply to be part of the program.

For more information, you can visit here.

Nesheim said they follow measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and health department and are taking other precautions to keep students safe. They keep groups small and students and staff wear masks. They also have plexiglass shields on their pods.

"We require dual-level temperature checks," Nesheim said. "So what that means is we're not only taking temperatures here, outside prior to our double-layer lobby, but we're also asking that families document and record their temperatures at home prior to even leaving the home."
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.