What is a Pandemic Pod?

I have been asked quite a few times to explain a pandemic pod, how it works, and how to find one.  Rather than sharing on Instagram, I felt it better to have a permanent place on my blog seeing as this seems to be a topic a lot of people are interested in learning more about.

What is a Pandemic Pod?

A "pandemic pod" is basically a group of friends that agree to be a type of "safety bubble."  In our case, our pandemic pod is a type of homeschool/private teacher situation.  We have a small group of kids and a private teacher that plans curriculum and activities for our kids and works with them daily.  We chose to do this instead of preschool because of the Coronavirus and reducing risk of exposure.

Every week the teacher sends out the curriculum for the upcoming week that includes what materials she will need.  If one of the parents has the materials then we provide them, if not, then she goes out and buys them.  At the end of the month the parents split the reimbursement cost for the supplies.

Now you are probably wondering what we are doing to keep each other safe.  It really comes down to trust between the families.  The mom's did sit down together and came up with rules to limit exposure.  That doesn't mean that our kids can't do anything like go places or play with friends outside the pod, but it does mean if they do see other friends, there are rules in place.

Rules

In terms of colds or instances we all deem too much exposure, that family will skip a week of school.  For example, my kids got a cold.  They were tested for Covid and it was negative but a cold is still a cold and therefore we skipped school for the week so nobody else got it.

When you are coming up with rules within your pod, here are some questions you may want to discuss.  Some of the answers may be a "yes or no" but most of the time, there are rules in place for each situation.

  • Playdates with kids outside of the pod?  Indoor or outdoor?  Masks?
    • Playdates with kids with siblings in public school?
    • Playdates with kids part of another pod?
  • Trips to the mall?  Stay in stroller?  No food court? 
  • Playspaces? 
  • Museums?  Kid Museums?  (Keep in mind these are different -- some museums are more hands-on)
  • Amusement Parks?
  • Outdoor Dining?
  • Indoor Dining?
  • Playgrounds?
    • Masks?
  • Supermarket?  Stores?
    • Sit in cart?  Walk?
  • Zoo?
    • Petting Zoo?
  • Winery (for adults)?
  • Events (Harvest Festivals or Holiday Events)?
  • Public pools? (Indoor/outdoor)
  • Sports with other kids? (Soccer)
  • Travel
    • Visitors traveling by plane? (Covid test?)
    • Visitors traveling from hot spot locations? -- whether by car or airplane.
This is just a list to get you started.  Everyone is going to have their own questions and list.  I would recommend writing it down on a piece of paper or in the "notes" app on your phone.  It is helpful to have a running list because as the weather changes, rules will change.

I know that for my family in particular, say my oldest and my husband go to an amusement park.  They obviously wear masks, but there is always going to be risk no matter what you do.  In that case we don't visit my mom or Scott's mom for 10 days unless they feel comfortable with us visiting earlier.  Same applies to Scott's dad.

How to Find a Pod
Finding a pod of your own can be tricky, especially when it comes to using it for educational purposes rather than solely seeing friends.  If you have a group of friends with kids the same age then it becomes a little easier.  We happened to find our private teacher by chance but I do know that there are lot of teachers available on Care.com.  I would start there for your search.  If you don't have a group of friends to get started with on your search, I would recommend finding a local Facebook group for your township and posting there.  I'm sure you will find a group.  Just keep in mind that some parents may not be working from home so if that is something you are concerned about, then you need to disclose that.

Curriculum

Our teacher worked hard to develop her own curriculum.  A lot of the activities and lessons she pulls from Pinterest which is what she did at the preschool she used to work at.  If you have a particular curriculum you want your teacher to follow, split the cost with the other parents and provide it.  Busy Toddler has an excellent curriculum if you are looking to go that route.

Learning Space

Every house has a different set up.  At our house we set up a large table with all the art supplies in one corner of our family room.  The teacher sits on one side of the table and the kids sit around her.  Since I have 2 kids my youngest is with me when school is in our house.  We spend our time in another room away from the school kids so they are not distracted.


Safety

We do have our teacher wear a mask at all times while the kids do not have to wear one.  If the teacher is eating during snack time then she takes it off but keeps her distance from the kids.  This makes us more comfortable and keeps everyone safe.

4 comments

  1. Thank you for this! I have been seeing things about pods pop on on social media a lot lately and have been very curious, this was so helpful!

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    1. Glad I could help you out! I've had a lot of questions about it lately and figured it would be easier to write a blog post about it because it looks like a lot of parents are looking into this option.

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  2. This is exactly what my friend with a 2nd grader is doing. I helped her design their learning space.

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    1. That's so great! Designing a learning space that is fun and welcoming makes education better and more enjoyable for the kids.

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