COVID-19 has closed schools across Pennsylvania for the remainder of the 2020 school year, meaning more than 1.7 million students have to finish their last two months from home.
Bedrooms and living rooms have turned into classrooms, and children aren't the only ones adjusting to their new learning arrangements. Parents, many of whom are now working from home during the governor's stay-at-home orders, now have a new responsibility making sure their kids are getting the education they would normally be getting if schools were still open.
"It is not the parent's job to educate and teach their child," said Tara Valoczki, Principal at Milton Hershey's Memorial Hall Elementary School. "They're there to support their kids and encourage them."
Which is why Valoczki says one of the parent's most important jobs with their child now learning at home is to not be too hard on themselves.
Valoczki, along with being Principal at Memorial Hall, is also a mother of three kids in elementary and middle school.
"It's important to establish a routine," she says. "Have your kids get up at the same time every day, eat breakfast, then get into their academics."
While the kids are working, Valoczki says it's important they all have their own, individualized study spaces, just like they would at school.
"They each have their own space that has their iPad or laptop from school, notebook paper and pencils, and they know when that door is shut it is their time to be working," Valoczki said.
However, in Pennsylvania, approximately 800,000 people do not have access to broadband internet, according to Federal Communications Commission data in 2019. Other school districts are low income, and cannot afford digital devices for their students to take home. It throws an added challenge for parents to make sure their child is learning.
Valoczki says reading a book, asking comprehension questions, or asking them to draw pictures and label, especially for younger students, still keeps their minds sharp.
"It's important if you're doing that to keep it simple," Valoczki says. "Do things they already know. You do not want in this new format to introduce new material. It should all be review."
Valoczki also says parents can take common household chores and turn them into useful, teaching moments, like preparing lunch and measuring items, are life skills she says every person needs.