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Portage County mom torn between in-person learning or remote learning, at risk of losing job

Portage County mom torn between in-person learning or remote learning, at risk of losing job
Posted at 4:22 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 18:12:26-04

RAVENNA, Ohio — As schools prepare to reopen, many parents are facing a tough choice. They can either send their kids back to school or keep them home - a choice that could cost some their jobs.

Time is running out for Kansas Atwood, of Atwater, to make that big decision. She’s a single mom to two kids, Jonathan, 6, and Aubrie, 3.

“By next week, we have to fill out a form in order to let them know if we plan on remote learning our children or in school attending our children,” Atwood said.

Jonathan is going into first grade in the Ravenna School District, but she’s worried about him attending in-person classes.

“I don't think that the masks are going to be enough and with them six foot separating the kids, there's no benefits to school - they're going to be sitting in the desk all day,” Atwood said.

The Ravenna School District is also letting kids learn remotely, but they have to be logged on and engaged for the entirety of the school day which makes things tough for Atwood.

She’s a single mom, works a nine to five job, and her day care provider can’t monitor Jonathan while he learns online along with the other kids she cares for. But even if she could, there’s another issue.

“I receive state subsidized daycare. So in order for my child to go to daycare, with him being school age, they will only cover before and after school payments for him and won’t cover the actual school hours,” Atwood said.

With all options exhausted, Atwood says she’s now being forced to choose between her son’s health and her job as a caretaker for adults with disabilities in order to stay home with him.

“Lots of other families they might be like, oh, you have aunts, uncles who can watch your kids or might be able to help you or something like that,” Atwood said.

News 5 reached out to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services with Atwood’s concerns.

An ODJFS spokesperson told News 5, “We, too, are concerned for parents in this difficult position, which is why we have been working with our state and federal partners to seek flexibility with this policy. We anticipate having updated guidance soon.”

“Like I'm an essential worker. How many essential workers out there have a nine to five job that are stuck in the same position I am?” Atwood said.

As Atwood and many more parents wait for that decision from ODJFS, for now, they’re still stuck with making this difficult choice.

“Unfortunately, I've been pretty much pushed into choosing between my income, and I'm a single parent, I have two kids there is no other option for me,” Atwood said.

Ravenna School District Superintendent Dennis Honkala also provided this statement to News 5 regarding the district's plan for the upcoming school year:

We understand that these times are unfortunate and put many people in a difficult situation. Our schools will be open for in person learning with precautions and plans in place guided by the federal, state and local government mandates. Our plan is on the school website if you would like further information (www.ravennaschools.us). We are remaining flexible with families should their situations change and they need to transition from remote learning to in person learning or vice-versa.
Dennis Honkala, Ravenna School District Superintendent

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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