Northland family shares experience with Distance Learning

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Quinn s a girl scout, a dancer and the owner of three beautiful pets. This year, she will be a sixth grader at Northstar Academy in Duluth.

Like so many other students, Quinn will be learning both at home and in the classroom.

“We’re going to school every Wednesday in person and then Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are all online,” Quinn said. “I’m a little more excited for this year because I get a desk in my room and I actually get my own Chromebook from the school.”

Quinn’s mom, Thea Stauffenecker, said Northstar Academy is doing the best they can, given the limitations they have, but expressed some concerns.

“I think the biggest struggle we have right now is just the consistency of the internet,” Thea said. “I actually took the proactive step after the summer to put in a second line.”

Thea added that childcare is another big concern for many parents.

“It has been wonderful that historically, we send our kids to school and because of that, we have the ability to go to work,” Thea said. “But, we can’t put it on our employers and we can’t put it on our educators to say: ‘I have to go to work, so you have to watch my children.’ That may be the space we were in, but that’s not the function that education is to serve.”

Forunately, Thea said her husband is retired and she is able to work from home part-time, so they are able to take care of their children as they learn from home. But, Thea worries about other families who may not have the option of working from home and wishes she could help take care of their kids too.

Additionally, Thea said the possibility that children could fall behind in their studies is a concern for parents.

“These kids who are 12, 13, all the way up to 18, they’re having to do a lot of this self management and some of them aren’t capable of it,” Thea said.

Quinn said having her own space to work and keeping her things organized helped.

“I had a schedule in one of my binders and we just did the classes in order,” Quinn said.

Quinn also credits her teachers for going above and beyond in keeping things engaging.

“Our teachers made this signup sheet where you could sign up to have Zoom meetings with just your friends, so you could just talk to your friends over Zoom and that was really fun.” Quinn said.

As this school year fast approaches, both Quinn and her mom are hoping for the best and planning to make the best of the situation.

“Everybody is trying to make the best decision that they can and I try and tell them that the amount of time and the amount of concern you have put into your child’s education means your kids will be just fine,” Thea said.

Additional resources that schools, parents and teachers can utilize to make distance learning easier for everyone can be found here: