Family affair

Ryland Wood (red shirt), clockwise, Logann Wood, Tiffany Wood, Layden Hatcher, Landan Hatcher, and Sarah Kopecky take a quick break during their “schooling” at home. Aransas County Independent School District students are distance learning with schools closed due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Distance learning, a non-novel name for off-campus instruction during a novel virus outbreak, began Monday, March 23 for Aransas County Independent School District students. Interrupted during day one of educating her four children at home, Tiffany Wood was still smiling.

She is experiencing what it’s like to homeschool her children, aided by good friend Sarah Kopecky, an adaptive education teacher at Miller High School in Corpus Christi.

Her husband, Rodney, is employed in Corpus Christi.

So, how did the first day go?

Six-year-old Ryland, a first grader at Live Oak Learning Center, said, “This is really good, but I’d rather be taught at school.”

Logann, a 10-year-old fourth grader at Fulton Learning Center (FLC), said she liked going to school at home, but added, “I’d rather socialize with my friends at school, and it’s probably a better learning environment.”

Tiffany took her children’s comments in stride, as she directed them back to their instructional material and/or laptop computers.

“Thankfully, we bought our kids laptops for Christmas, so we were ready,” she said.

After two weeks of being away from school (Spring break, plus an extra week of extended Spring break due to the Coronavirus), Tiffany and Rodney had to get their kids back on a regular schedule, as if they were back at school, including implementing bedtime hours for the two younger children.

The two older children, Layden, 14, a freshman, and Landan, 16, a junior, are students at Rockport-Fulton High School.

Layden is comfortable with her new learning environment, at least for the moment, and added, “I feel like I can finish my work here.”

Older sister Landan, an RFHS cheerleader, said, “I always wanted to be home schooled … until this.

“I like to be around (a lot of) people.”

The loss of social contact with friends at school is one drawback of being educated at home on a temporary basis, but it’s not like kids are locked in their bedrooms.

“We’ve been to the beach, and have planned trips to local parks,” said Tiffany. “We call it P.E.!”

The first day at home began with a good breakfast, followed by a period of learning.

“Then we went to the high school and picked up lunches,” said Tiffany.

At the start of this interview, the kids were back at work, having just finished lunch.

Tiffany just started her job as a library aide at FLC, and has her responsibilities at her campus, as well.

“I still have to go to campus and help put together the packets for students,” she said. “We do this to cover two weeks of study.”

The two younger children utilize the packets prepared by their teachers. The two high school kids utilize online tools on their laptops.

Tiffany said Ryland was a little behind with his reading, so she called Sarah and asked if she could provide some extra instruction last week, during the extended Spring break period.

“It gave my 16-year-old a break (because my husband and I were both working),” she said.

Tiffany said the coronavirus pandemic is a little scary, but added, “We have to maintain some kind of normalcy for the kids.

“They’re are all athletic and very involved. Not being able to go to practices, etc. has been frustrating for them, but this is our new normal until we (get back into the classroom).”

She said all her children’s teachers have been a great help, providing instructional material, and providing email addresses and personal phone numbers so they can be easily reached.

“They’ll help any way they can,” she said. “I know it is just as hard on them having to be away from their students.”

Doing this alone with four children would be a daunting task, but having a friend like Sarah is very beneficial.

“She has been my saving grace,” said Tiffany. “She has her own responsibilities at her school, so she usually can’t be here in the mornings.

“It can get a little chaotic with four children, ranging in age from six to 16.”

Sarah said the important thing about distance learning is it is keeping everyone as safe as possible as the coronavirus spreads.

“I miss my kids. This messes up my daily routine,” she said.

With day one in the books, there’s no telling how long the homeschooling will last.

Tiffany concluded, “The teachers are all helping each other, as well, tying to make sure their students stay at their current levels (without being in an actual classroom).”

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