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Learning pods provide work opportunities during remote learning

Adams 12 Five Star Schools will support learning pods with staff members supervising.

NORTHGLENN, Colo. — When school buildings are shut down for remote learning, that usually means jobs are shut down, too, like school bus drivers, daycare workers, and para-educators.

But, the Adams 12 Five Star School District plans to launch a unique plan to form learning pods of small groups of students to conduct remote learning together to begin the fall semester. Each group will meet inside the school and have a learning pod leader staffed by an employee who normally would be out of work during remote learning

"My initial reaction was just to make sure that kids and staff are safe," Paul Williams, president of the Classified School Employees Association, said.

Under the learning pod plan, Williams said classified employees would be able to work and be paid at their normal rate to help kids learn from teachers conducting lessons remotely. The learning pods will bring less than half of the school's capacity back into the building. Williams said this is not only good for kids, but it is also good for people to work.

"This is more for the folks who would not be engaged (during remote learning) -- our bus drivers, our bus paras, para-educators in the schools, before-and-after-school folks," Williams said. "Employees are constantly fighting for hours."

Williams said they will also be offered longer shifts than normal before COVID-19.

"Even the para-educators in the schools, you know, they might be a student monitor who's only working four hours a day. Now, they have an opportunity of possibly working eight hours a day," Williams said.

RELATED: Adams 12 offers twist to 'learning pods' during remote learning

He said it also allows the district to retain hard-to-replace employees like bus drivers.

"My hope is that this gets legs and we're able to fill all the pods and that we're able to have all of our classified employees who are wanting to work -- working," Williams said.

Staff members are not being forced to work as learning pod leaders, Williams said. He adds that their jobs are secure if they don't want to work, but they will not get paid until their regular job resumes when schools re-open.

"For this to have an opportunity for folks to be able to come in and still get paid while we're able to continue this remote learning," Williams said. "This was definitely a win-win for us."

Adams 12 Five Star Schools will be remote learning from August 27 through at least September 25. The district will decide whether to bring all students back to school buildings in a few weeks.

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