‘Learning pods’ pop up in the Tri-Cities

Local Coronavirus Coverage

BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) — For parents and teachers, the upcoming school year looks uncertain as coronavirus cases continue to increase across the country.

Some parents are taking their children’s education into their own hands, creating small groups to ensure their children get in-person learning.

They’re called learning pods, and some consist of parents while others hire private instructors.

An organization in Bristol, Tennessee hopes these learning pods will help students academically and socially as school systems battle on whether or not to open their doors this fall.

“Our staff has this idea of offering a tutoring program in our center in the afternoons when we don’t have our regular patients, and we want to focus not just on helping the kids complete their academics, but also offer a social skills component,” said Rebecca Phillips, Owner of Phillips ABA Therapy.

Phillips is a Board Certifies Behaverol Therapist and wanted to find a way to help students through the COVID-19 pandemic.

​“Coming from a teaching background, we know that not only students academics are at stake right now, but also their social and emotional development and just their enjoyment and love of learning,” said Phillips.

She decided to create small educational settings called learning pods, which consist of three students per instructor.

“We’re not here to take the place of a teacher whatsoever, but we’re here to bridge the gap that they would be missing at home so they have their little escape here for 90 minutes whether it’s three days a week or twice a week and come learn with people their same age, learn from us, ” said Kelsie Deaton, a behavioral technician.

Deaton also has a master’s degree in occupational therapy along with a bachelor’s degree in childhood education focusing on ages pre-K through fourth.

As parents continue to keep their children in public school, learning pods are used to help compensate for possible learning curves associated with remote learning.

This gives students the opportunity to get help with their education and meet social needs while avoiding the risk of infection that could come from attending school with hundreds of other students.

“It averages out to about $40 a session,” explained Kristen Pascale, administrative assistant, and a registered behavioral technician. “So, because we have qualified teachers with a lot of experience, it’s like the average for getting a tutor.”

Pascale has a background in teaching multiple reading levels, math and pre-algebra.

The learning pods are also meant to make students more independent and less dependent when it comes to their homework while being stuck at home.

“Through the positive reinforcement principles, it’s geared to develop transit motivation and positive work habits,” said Phillips.

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