Butler County school parents cope, look for hope with kids at home

It’s shoes and socks optional learning at home for the Farler family and thousands of other area school families who are staying home under preventive measures to bind the spread of the Coronavirus. The Talawanda family say the subsequent togetherness has many benefits - here Andy Farler oversees his children’s digital learning and activities - and a few challenges. (Provided Photo/Journal-News)

Staying at home during the coronavirus threat, say area school parents, doesn’t have to be isolating.

As Ohio school families start a second, unprecedented week of state-mandated shutdowns of all K-12 schools, some local parents said the first week of staying home started a tad bumpy but smoothed out as they adapted to America’s new norm under the threat of the COVID-19 virus.

“It started off rocky because you have to find out what works and what doesn’t,” said Molly Farler, whose three children attend Talawanda Schools near Oxford.

“It’s not as overwhelming as you think it is. Take it slow,” is the advice she shares with other school families whose children are also now spending dozens of more hours at home that used to be taken up by classes and after-school activities.

One of the early challenges with having three children aged 10 and yonger was adopting to learning at home, which she said Talawanda school teachers are helping with online academic lessons.

“The schooling part has actually gone smoothly,” Farler said. “The teachers have been wonderful.”

Across Butler County, southwest Ohio and the nation, public and private schools have quickly cobbled together plans and instructional programs so students can go online to continue their class lessons but in the safety of their homes.

Many community organizations have also jumped in to help busy parents, many of whom are also continuing their jobs remotely as ordered by their companies, by supplying free online, education-oriented materials, exercises and games to keep the students engaged.

School officials throughout the region are urging parents and guardians to frequently check the websites of their local schools for new learning resources and how to reach out to teachers for help with academic lessons and projects.

One of those digital features, a series of “Home Safari” Facebook Live produced by the Cincinnati Zoo and broadcast online daily at 3 p.m., is a favorite of Farler’s children.

“It’s wonderful. We watch it every day,” she said.

Hamilton school parent Lisa Short said her kids’ new daily routine during the school week is walking to their nearby school to pick up the free packaged meals that would normally be consumed by her children at school.

“It’s our daily walk and it gives us time together out of the house,” said Short.

She and her family are trying to look for the positives in the situation.

“It’s bringing us all closer together. We spending more time unplugging from the cell phones. The pandemic may have stopped us but the bright side is we all taking more time for each other,” she said.

Short’s advice for other school families: To relax.

“We can only control so much. Our community and our government are here to help us out so count your blessings and look at the positive side of everything and just know the good Lord will provide a way,” she said.

Farler said all families have to understand they are unique in their members and routines.

“As a family you have to do what works for you,” she said. “And don’t feel less competent because you are seeing other families do it a different way. Do what works for your household.”

Coronavirus resources

  • Ohio Department of Health hotline: 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (staffed from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day)
  • ODH updates: coronavirus.ohio.gov
  • Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services helpline: 1-877-275-6364

National Alliance on Mental Illness Butler County hotline: 1-844-4CRISIS

Ohio crisis text line: Text keyword “4HOPE” to 741 741

Butler County hotline for seniors who need help: 513-721-1025

Butler County hotline for those who want to help seniors: 513-623-3891

Complete Journal-News coverage: bit.ly/coronavirusjn

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