“All parents out there — all families out there are struggling during this time,” stated Jessica Brumbaugh, parent.
Stress is mounting once again for many school families. Remote learning will begin for any schools in Erie County’s orange zone. It is raising a distance learning and child care dilemma for many parents.
With the exception of summer break, Mya Brumbaugh has been sitting at her dinning room table for remote learning.
Mya is in the Kenmore Tonawanda School District where only younger students were allowed to return for some in-person learning.
“And now schools are shutting down so we don't know when our kids will ever see a classroom again,” said Jessia Brumbaugh, parent.
Brumbaugh said she’s upset that the district didn't allow her daughter to begin her freshman year at Kenmore West High School in the classroom.
The Town of Tonawanda mom was so upset with the district's decision she enrolled her son Aiden in 7th grade at St. John the Baptist School where he has had in-person learning five days a week.
“I put him on the bus on the first day of school and I was almost crying because I was so happy for him,” Brumbaugh recalls.
But as of Monday schools in Erie County’s orange zone must go all remote and Aiden will be joining his sister at home for learning.
“It will be hard for me, as a working parent at home, making sure that both kids stay on task,” remarked Brumbough.
Meanwhile, many parents are also scrambling to find child care that provides help with remote learning.
The owner of Scholar Toddler Daycare in Buffalo said she has been bombarded with requests.
“I’ve been getting more and more calls each and every day, emails asking do I have room to accept their children so they're able to distance learn,” explained Angelic Holt.
Holt is expanding her small day care off Genesee Street to include up to six young school age children, free of charge, to help parents who can not be home during remote learning.
“Making sure these kids still have what they need — adequate learning equipment — meals — proper meals and all of that,” Holt replied.
Holt said students who arrive with their devices will have Wifi access. She has two computers and is working to bring in more.
She said she also has plenty of PPE and will keep children at a safe distance while they do their school work.
“I can at least bring in six more kids and they can comfortably learn and stay properly social distance,” Holt explained.
Working moms are facing the brunt of finding the right help for their kids during the pandemic.
“And it has repercussions for women and women's careers for generations to come this is predicting to set women back a generation,” noted Sheri Scavone, executive director, WNY Women’s Foundation.
Scavone said working moms need to speak up in the workplace to fight for help.
“Take it off the kitchen table and go in and talk to your boss — have a conversation — business owners need to understand and they are in a dilemma themselves,” suggested Scavone.
Scavone pointed to some tough statistics that have emerged during the pandemic.
- One-third of women 25 to 44 have left the workforce to take care of children
- A total of 855,000 nationwide stepped away from the workforce in September
- 71% of women with children under the age of 18 work outside the home
- 41% of working women are the primary bread winners in their household
- 1 out of 4 women expected to leave workforce due to pandemic
Scavone said for all the strides women have made in the workplace, the pandemic is creating a huge setback.
She calls on the nation to rethink child care and make it universal for all especially if it wants to rebuild the economy.
“We can’t rebuild without child care as an essential tenant of our infrastruture,” Scavone responded.
School families in need of remote learning support for their children can also look for support from Virtual Learning Support Centers. Say Yes Buffalo operates a number of them.