Here's how San Jose moms created a pandemic pod on a budget

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Bay Area moms create learning pod for their kids on a budget
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a group of San Jose moms created a learning pod for their children on a budget without hiring a teacher or tutor. Here's how they did it.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Pandemic pods may be a buzzword now, but a couple of months ago they were brand new with many parents asking, "How do I do this?" A group of San Jose moms created a pod on a budget without hiring a teacher or tutor.

One group of San Jose 9-year-olds is certain to remember their fourth-grade year vividly as are their moms.

Bay Area parents are getting creative when it comes to their kids and school in light of Covid-19. Many are contemplating alternative learning options for the fall either out of necessity or preference.

San Jose moms Denize Westphal, Shanna Brewer and Helen Franklin created a pandemic pod at the start of the school year.

9-year-old Jack Cruttenden said, "We get to do things together and play together."

"I like that we get to see our friends," added 9-year-old Olivia Westphal.

"And if you need help with something you can ask your friends," continued 9-year-old Owen Westphal.

Wesphal has twins while the other moms each have one child who participates in the pod.

"We were trying to think of something that could not only support our kids in distance learning but also provide some stability and those that needed to go to work," said Brewer.


"It was a financial challenge to hire a tutor or a nanny," said Westphal.

So the women came up with a plan, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, they each take turns hosting all 4 children at their home. Wednesdays the kids are with their own families and Fridays they take turns with which family will host an extra day that week.

"Jack is really thriving, he's doing great. I think I underestimated the social impact, we find the kids really miss each other when it's not a pod day," said Franklin. So much so, Jack admits after a Wednesday at home alone with his mom, he can't wait for Thursday to be back in the pod.

"100%," Cruttenden said laughing.

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There are multiple COVID-19 precautions in place.

The host home takes the temperatures of the children arriving.

In each home, the kids have their own devices, are socially distanced and face away from one another.

"This is so they can take their masks off during class this was important to all of us," said Franklin.

With masks on they're able to help each other with lessons and have active breaks, playtime and PE.

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"For me, that was the moment when I went, 'oh this is the best decision we ever made,'" said Brewer.

There have been challenges small and large.

"One of the biggest challenges has been remembering what to bring on what day," said Westphal.

Despite those and the inevitable technical glitches, these moms say it was worth it.

"Realize that it's doable. It was very daunting in the beginning the idea of doing this all by ourselves," said Westphal.

They estimate they're saving tens of thousands of dollars while getting to know one another a lot better.

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