By Juli McDonald

SALEM (CBS) – It’s a worry weighing on parents and educators everywhere: what will the fall look like? How can we keep kids safe, stimulated, and social?

“We are lucky enough to have a public school system in Salem that is really doing an exceptional job. We’re just looking to not screw that up for our kids,” said Phil Higgins, a father of two who works as a psychotherapist.

The springtime crash course in distanced learning was far from perfect.

“The teachers did a great job, the school did a great job. The people who weren’t doing a great job was us because we’re all full-time working parents,” he explained.

Higgins’ sons, with two other families, have now formed a ‘pandemic pod.’ It’s more of a camp dynamic in the summer, and the educator/child care provider will hopefully supplement their school curriculum come fall.

“We switch from week-to-week. She works 8 hours a day with them. We trade off houses,” Higgins said.

The families feel strongly about the socialization benefits of in-person learning, but want a loose plan in place if kids aren’t in the classroom all week. With multiple families, they can swing this setup financially. It allows parents to focus on their jobs, knowing the kids have the attention and support they need to learn – whether that learning is in person or online.

“It’s going to have to be good enough. That’s the goal: good enough. Nothing is going to be perfect.”

Juli McDonald

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