…Unfortunately, none of those parties or field trips occurred.
“And the killer is, it’s not going to happen for at least a year,” Taylor said. Two weeks ago, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that schools would have the option to start the school year with all-remote learning, a reversal from previous declarations that schools would be required to offer some in-person classroom instruction. Two of New Jersey’s biggest school districts, Jersey City and Elizabeth, had already decided they would be virtual-only. As of Thursday, 137 other districts had announced plans to follow suit.“If you ask an attorney, I don’t think they’d tell you there’s any superintendent of a public school in New Jersey who will open in September,”
Taylor said. “Every working parent is now scrambling.”So Taylor transformed Imagine That: her facility has four party rooms with the capacity to hold up to 10 socially distanced children.
She’s changing her party rooms into class-rooms and inviting parents and teachers to come to her with“learning pods” of six to 10 children between kindergarten and third grade. She can’t create the groups herself, she said, but she can connect them with teachers and tutors if necessary.
“My heart aches for working parents. Many summers in a row, I tried to juggle work with small children, and that was just for the summer. I can’t imagine you have two parents trying to work from home while you have kids virtually learning,” Taylor said.
“They just dealt with that for four months. I can’t even fathom what the stress level is for that.”
By putting six to 10 kids together, more time is freed up for parents. While a teacher and just one or two parents works with the students, the other parents are free to work uninterrupted on Imagine That’s WiFi. With two half-daytime slots proposed, Imagine That has room for eight daily groups; and “learning pods” have the option of coming in one to five days a week. In whichever half of the day the students aren’t working, they can play on Imagine That’s 16,000 square feet of play space, which has strict guide-lines and safety procedures in place and a full-time staff member whose sole job is to sanitize.“One of the things I’m trying to do here is create some form of comfort for the parents,” Taylor said