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How grandparents are helping fill the gaps in childcare and school during the pandemic

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Posted at 6:34 PM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-12 08:45:14-04

CLEVELAND — The coronavirus pandemic has upended work and school life for so many families, who are only able to rebound from the fallout because of the safety net grandparents are providing.

It is said, a grandparent’s love never grows old.

“I love my grammy,” said Anson, 4.

And, in these new and trying times, neither does a child’s gratitude.

“I don’t know how I can ever repay her,” said Megan Rhodes about her mom Laurie Matzelle.

“I am so grateful that I was able to take care of this and help her with this and be there for her and the kids,” said Laurie. “They're my world!”

Laurie is grandma to 4-year-old Anson, and Ali who is one.

When the pandemic hit and daycares closed, Laurie provided child care for Megan; a single mom holding down two jobs to make ends meet.

“It was crazy,” said Megan. “My mom is my savior!”

Megan and the kids had recently moved in with Laurie, who says she feels it was fated since she had also just recently quit her job.

And, while she says the work is exhausting, “I know why women my age do not have children,” she laughed. “They're wonderful but yeah, it's exhausting!"

Laurie continues to watch the kids today and says she wouldn’t change a thing.

“To see them growing as they do and see Ali take her first steps - it is a blessing - and I wouldn't have it any other way,” said Laurie.

Across town, a family in Mentor is united in their pledge to not let the coronavirus separate them.

“So, we knew if the kids went back to in-person school in the fall we wouldn't be able to see them,” said Kay Shaniuk.

Dan and Kay Shaniuk are homeschooling their four grandchildren: Masie, Leo, Parker and Danny.

Why?

“Because we've set ourselves up in a little bubble,” said Kay.

Dan is a cancer survivor and his medication makes him immunocompromised and vulnerable to COVID-19. They couldn't stand the thought of not seeing each other. So, as a family they decided not to burst the bubble and keep isolating together.

Dan and Kay say they didn’t see this in retirement!

“If you'd a told me I was going to be the back-up French teacher at the age of 73,” laughed Dan. “I wouldn't have believed it!”

The kids enrolled in the Ohio Virtual Academy. The online charter school provides the curriculum and Dan and Kay do most of the teaching.

“There’s definitely really good times, and there's definitely some 'Uh oh, regroup times’ but really, it's fun,” said Kay.

The kids agree: “My favorite part is basically everything,” one exclaimed!

“We’re just very appreciative of everything they do for us,” said William Shaniuk, Dan and Kay's son

It is a sentiment echoed by so many of you who sent in e-mails.

Like Heather who wrote, “I’m extraordinarily grateful” for my mom Theresa.

Heather said she helps the children with remote learning so she and her husband can continue to work.

And, Shannon gave a shout-out to her aunts, who she said have been “life savers!”

She said her aunts take her twin five-year-old boys out on weekly treks to the MetroParks.

So, to all the family members able to safely help we say...

“Thank you,” said the Shaniuk’s grandkids “Thank you for all the support.”

We reached out to the Ohio Virtual Academy, where the family in Mentor enrolled, and they say they’ve grown more than 45% this year, and their phones have been ringing off the hook.

RELATED: How grandparents are providing a safety net for parents with children during COVID-19

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