TOWN OF TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW) — “We know this is such a hard time,” declared Katherine Spillman, principal, Mount St. Mary Academy, Town of Tonawanda.
Families across America are struggling with caring for their children as a result of the pandemic.
A new national survey looks at the impact of coronavirus on households, finding 59-percent of households with children report serious problems caring for their children at this time.
But Mount St. Mary Academy has figured out a creative way to offer employees some help.
“Bonjour!”, said Aneeta Shepardson, French teacher. “Bonjour!”, responded the classroom.
Shepardson is the new french teacher at the school. She's also a mother of a five and eight year old.
The Catholic, all girls high school, with more than 200-students, was able to return to full in-school learning.
But Shepardson's young children attend North Tonawanda City Schools where the district is conducting a hybrid program.
Students attend only two days a week of in-school learning and three days a week of in-home, remote learning.
Like so many parents, Shepardson was stressing about the need to work, while her kids would be home three days a week for remote learning.
“Thinking about whether or not you want to stick with your career or not for the year. The risk of taking the year off or whether the options even there for you,” Shepardson said.
“Many of our teachers, our staff members were wrestling with what am I going to do,” explained Katherine Spillman, principal.
Mount St. Mary leadership realized many of their faculty and staff with children were facing the same dilemma.
Spillman says that's when they decided to create this remote learning room for employees to bring their children — free of charge.
“And it's a little cohort of kids — all from different schools and they come to Mount St. Mary's with their parents,” Spillman noted.
The children of the faculty are in kindergarten through middle school. Some attend once a week and others a few more times during the school week.
“Child care is so hard right now to because we're wanting to protect our loved ones and so many of our faculty and staff have relied on grandparents and so that option is not there in the same way,” Spillman remarked.
“I don't have to try to line up sitters everyday of the week and things like that,” Shepardson replied.
The principal said some of the teaching staff did ask for a sabbatical or family leave. But other staffers opted for this option.
"Gives an assurance to these faculty and staff members that we care about them. We care about their family. We know this is such a hard time,” Spillman stated.
The school is following all the safety protocols and even these young students are required to wear a face masks while in the school.
Mount St.Mary also hired Samantha Rohloff to work in the remote room. She helps students through all their remote learning and watches over them.
“It’s nice to have them right here with me. I can bring them in the morning. I can come to them at lunch, take them out for walks and what not, so it's kind of nice to have that,” described Shepardson.
“What's your advice to a parent that's struggling that doesn't have this advantage?” Buckley asked. “Honestly, just taking it one day at a time — is all we can do right now,” responded Shepardson.