CHICAGO (CBS) — As the first week of classes for Chicago Public Schools winds down, parents continue to reach out to the CBS 2 Morning Insiders.
In this new frontier of all-remote learning, they do not know what to do as they strive to balance the needs of their children and their jobs.
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas on Friday introduced us to two moms who are struggling with remote learning.
Spanish class was under way for Tara Howarth’s daughter at their apartment.
“Her father actually passed away three years ago today,” Howarth said.
Howarth is a single mom and a property manager, and now she is also a classroom assistant in her own home.
“Yesterday alone, we lost connection four times,” she said.
The connection is even worse when her daughter is on her tablet, riding along with mom while she works.
“I have to be at properties to do work, to check things, et cetera,” Howarth said. “I’m forced to do things; to make decisions between, where I can do my job and she can be in school?”
But when CPS announced the all-remote plan, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said it wouldn’t come to that.
“No one should have to choose between work and whether their children will have the resources they need to thrive, and we will make sure that is not a choice that has to happen,” Mayor Lightfoot said at the time.
CPS opened six child care centers, where workers will supervise kids as they e-learn. The district took up to 240 students to start, prioritizing kids in “high-need communities or transitional housing.”
Howarth, who rents in Lincoln Square, does not qualify – and she says she cannot afford private child care.
“If I can’t fulfill my job and I lose my job because of this, then we might then be in that situation where we’re going to then get those services, after I’ve had to lose a job just to get it,” she said.
From an apartment in Woodlawn, Latrice Edmonds said she too is forced to make a choice.
“Now I’m choosing between work and school,” she said.
Her son, Keon, was frustrated after trying unsuccessfully to open his reading assignment. Even the teacher complains of technical difficulties.
“When we try to log in, it doesn’t … it’s not working,” the teacher was heard saying.
Edmonds said her son has trouble focusing and needs hands-on help with his individualized learning program. She said she is taking unpaid time off her job at O’Hare International Airport this week to help him, but her bosses told her she needs to come back next week.
“I won’t be there,” Edmonds said. “I guess they’ll have to do what they have to, because I won’t be there.”
Edmonds is also a single mom. She does not know exactly what the solution is, but she says it’s time to find one – because she wants kids like Keon to keep improving too.
“They need a better system,” she said, “because it’s a lot of distractions for kids like Keon.”
We reached out to CPS and the Mayor’s office to ask what they plan to do to help moms like Howarth and Edmonds. We are waiting for an answer.
We have also heard from several other parents who where denied CPS child care spots.
The district does plan to open more spots on Sept. 21, but they have not said how many.