Young East Bay sisters do distance learning from mom's work office as their school remains closed

SAN LORENZO, Calif. (KGO) -- We may now be a lot closer to in-person learning, but distance learning has been the norm and families continue to sacrifice. Some parents are bringing their kids to work while others are taking work home.

"It's going, it's been busy already, started at 8 o'clock. The kids are at school," says Ana Rodriguez, who suddenly looks over and tells her daughters to sit in their school chairs.

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"Oh in the afternoon, 'Girlsssss!!' It gets a lot more crazy!" says Rodriguez. As we were speaking with the mother of three, you could tell things were already in full swing.

"They couldn't make the - Um, excuse me!" she said looking at her two daughters, who were supposed to be focused on distance learning.

This is just another day for Ana Rodriguez, admin, office manager, and mother of three. 7-year-old Alana and 6-year-old Aleena do distance learning in the same building, same office, and same room as their mother at ArborTech Tree Care. Basically side by side, every day, with mom as they go to school via Zoom in the San Lorenzo School District.

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"It's very challenging, they get here, they have to log into school, I am an admin so I come in and my phone is already ringing so I have emails, I have voicemails that I have to check. Log them in and make sure they have their headphones on then I have to do my job," says Rodriguez.

And while the Rodriguez family is challenged with learning at work, Estreilla Raddavero's family is challenged with everyone working from home.

Raddavero is a veteran teacher of 25 years who teaches kindergarten in the Millbrae School District. She has her young students and her own kids, who when distance learning started, were literally all over the place.

"One person was on the deck because it was warm enough. My son was in his room, my daughter was at her little kitchen area, and I was teaching in the hallway but on a bale. I have chickens so on a bale of bedding for the chickens, so that was the only space I had," says Raddavero.

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But Raddavero has made some changes over the past year. She still loves her chickens, but now has adjusted and created her own chicken-free space inside her house. Something that may or may not stack up against other distance learning setups.

"I see these beautiful pictures online of these gorgeous kitchens and people working in these fabulous setups with the background, with the bookshelves, and I'm like, 'okay right now this is probably the nicest part of my house,'" says Raddavero as she begins to laugh.

It's certainly not perfect, but Raddavero says they've found some little helpful additions that have gone a very long way in making distance learning work better for everyone.

"My daughter has clay at her spot, so while she is listening to a story she needs to be moving so she is constantly drawing or building something with clay. My older one put a serenity fountain in. She found a fountain because she was getting anxiety and she just needed that. I have a little humidifier that sprays lavender mist," says Raddavero.

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Estreilla's kids are in middle school, high school, and college. They have mixed opinions about going back to class. Even Raddavero believes more needs to be done to guarantee safety for everyone.

"I'm missing the hugs and I'm missing the little faces, but we want to be safe. Just don't feel like it's the time to go back. Not yet, not vaccinated yet," says Raddavero.

Rodriguez's girls are younger, 1st and 2nd grade and both hopeful to get back to school. They were full of energy when we spoke with their mom.

In fact, when we talked with 6-year-old Aleena and asked her about her friends in class, she was quick to respond with a heartbreaking answer.

"I don't have friends," said Aleena who went on to say, "I use to have friends!"

We asked her sister Alanna if she has friends in distance learning classes and the answer was a simple, "no."

These days the two have each other and their mom during the day, even if things do get a little loud sometimes.

"I can hear mom clicking," says Alanna referring to her mom's loud typing that she often hears while she's in her distanced class.

Rodriguez says she would like to see changes to help families.

"Ultimately, I would like to see some options for working parents. I just don't feel like we have a voice. Something where the teachers can start teaching them in person. I don't even care if it's outside where we can get these kids back to learning the way they need to be learning," says Rodriguez.

Raddavero is expecting to go back to in person teaching at her school this month in Millbrae. She'll then be doing in-person and distance learning. As for the Rodriguez girls, they tell us they have received no update from their school in San Lorenzo as to when in person classes will resume.

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