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Parents adjust to life with no school

Some students in Troup County may be done with official graded assignments for this school year, but that doesn’t mean parents are letting them have an extended spring break due to COVID-19.

Some parents are working to juggle working full-time out of the home, be engaged in their children’s education and also keep them safe from the spread of COVID-19.

Brandi Jones has a third-grade daughter and a first-grade son who attend Franklin Forest Elementary School in LaGrange. Like several other students in LaGrange, the two students use Google Classroom to access assignments and use Zoom to see their teachers.

None of that is out of the ordinary for the current climate.

However, Jones leaves her home at 5:30 a.m. to work in Stockbridge in the healthcare industry and doesn’t get home until about 6:45 p.m. Her husband works the night shift as a LaGrange police officer.

However, that doesn’t mean Jones’ children are off the hook when completing the work sent home by the school system.

“My daughter knows that when I get home, the first thing that I’m going to do is ask her if she did her homework,” Jones said. “I’m also going to ask where it is because she knows I want to see it. That’s something that we do pretty much immediately when I get home.”

Jones said her son has ADHD, so focusing can be an issue. However, she said his teacher hand-delivered paper packets to the Jones’ home because she knew about the family’s schedule.

Jones said all her son’s and daughter’s teachers have been easily accessible, and if she has any questions, they usually respond within 24 hours. Jones is also aware that right now her children’s education is up to her.

“We have to get ourselves away from everybody, and I have to dedicate time to each child individually to go over their work and try to teach,” she said.

Jones said assignments aren’t officially graded, but there are some quizzed assignments that give the student and parents an inclination about how the student is performing. She said she takes the information to figure out how to move forward with their education.

“When I go back to school, you know, in the fall, and they’re in their next grade, I don’t want my kids to be behind,” Jones said. “The last thing I want them to do is to go back to school and be behind because I wasn’t structured.”

She said teachers are doing everything they can to provide the right tools for parents.

“No, I did not sign up to be my child’s teacher, but their education is my responsibility,” Jones said. “Even when they’re in school, and they bring home homework. It is my responsibility as a parent to make sure that my kids are doing it. And that’s kind of how I’m looking at this.”

Suzy Noles is a grandparent who sees her grandchildren a couple of times a week, but even a trip to grandma’s house isn’t a free ride with no academics.

Noles cares for an 11-year-old and a 16-year-old. She said the teenager is good about handling her own academics, but there is designated time for school work.

“We usually do it after lunch,” Noles said. “He loves being outside, but he’s good about listening when we say it’s time to do some homework.”

Noles said she works with him each day as he navigates through about three or four pages of homework, as well as a word search.

However, he also spends time with his grandfather, learning in a non-traditional way.

“We’re planning a vegetable garden,” Noles said. “My husband showed him how to use a grill and how to repaint an old picnic table.”

Additionally, the Noles family has chickens. Noles said her husband teaches how to properly care for the chickens, such as how to feed them, how to care for the eggs and how to keep their cages clean.

Courtney Hudson’s children go to Lafayette Christian School in LaGrange. Because Lafayette Christian is a private school, their assignments are graded.

Although the work for Hudson’s sixth and eighth-graders is turned into teachers, she said the biggest challenge is getting her children to ask for help when needed.

“That has been a struggle since they are not in the classroom setting,” Hudson said. “So, they don’t ask for help. And so, it’s been a learning curve in getting him to understand that if they have issues, they can ask me or email a teacher because somebody is there to help you.”

Hudson is a revenue coordinator for a local non-profit organization, and she’s been working at home during the COVID-19 healthcare crisis. For the most part, Hudson said her kids have been good about working, but there are times when she had to keep their focus on academics.

“There are times that if I’m working at my table, one of them will be right next to me working on theirs,” she said. “It’s kind of been an adjust as we go type of thing.”

Hudson said if that set up isn’t working one day, or the grades start to reflect it’s not working, she’ll figure out something else.