On August 7, 2020, the Barrow County School System in Georgia announced it would be starting the school year online for all students with no return date planned. And on August 14, Hall County announced a new “hybrid schedule” where children will only be in-person every other day.
For most dual-income families, the initial reaction is some form of panic. How can I keep my job when my child needs me to help with their education? Can I bring my child with me to work? How will my child succeed in school without a teacher guiding them along the way?
Perhaps most realistically, how will I not lose my mind?
There are currently 15 children from FX Logistics staff members ranging from kindergarten through 8th grade that don’t have a full-time in-person schooling option.
If other schools in the area go all-digital, Leesa explains they’ll have around 25 kids affected ranging from kindergarten age through high school. If daycares close, there will be even more children who need care.
For Leesa Stoner, CEO of FX Logistics, this is a personal struggle as she has three children, two of whom are now in grade school.
“If I would hire a tutor for my own family, it’s the right thing to do for all families that work for FX Logistics,” Leesa says. “We have to prioritize our children’s education. It’s the best gift we can give them.”
An Office Turned Classroom
Leesa and her team have been able to create space for classrooms. If more county schools decide to switch to distance learning, she says she will continue to reorganize the office and make more room.
FX Logistics is currently looking to hire a tutor to help the children through the virtual learning process.
“We didn’t have much notice since Barrow County made the announcement last week, but we will be prepared to welcome the students on Monday into their new classroom. We will have supplies and a teacher waiting for them,” Leesa says.
She explains no one really knows what to expect as parents haven’t been fully informed.
“Is it all on the computer? Are they watching a teacher? Will they be using a platform such as Google classroom or Kahn Academy? Or, are they just given assignments and expected to upload or email them back similar to virtual learning in the spring? That’s another component that makes this so challenging – none of us know what’s involved yet,” she says.
Despite all the uncertainty, Leesa and her team plan to do everything they can to provide a structured day that helps the students excel.
“My education from Washington & Jefferson College and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law has been instrumental in my success in business. Our children need to build a foundation of knowledge now that they can build on for years to come. I want to give every child a chance to reach their full potential,” Leesa says.
FX Logistics staff plans to set up classrooms, create time blocks throughout the day, utilize the fenced-in outdoor space to mimic a recess, and hire trainers specializing in different sports for the older children.
Risks vs. Benefits
The majority of parents in Barrow, Hall, and surrounding counties have chosen in-person learning at school, up to 70% in most counties.
“To me, that shows that the vast majority of parents believe the benefits of going to school exceeds the associated potential risk of COVID-19 exposure,” Leesa says.
Barrow County has had less than 1,300 reported cases since the beginning of March and currently has five cases being treated in its hospitals. Gwinnett, a neighboring county, has over 20,000 cases and is proceeding with in-person schooling. This discrepancy is frustrating for many parents.
“I believe in freedom. I believe everyone should have the freedom to choose what is best for their children and their family. For most, we are choosing to resume life and to let our children return to normalcy, which includes school and sports for most families. For those that choose differently than me, I respect that too. Again, our freedom is what makes our country so special,” Leesa explains.
Leesa has personally tested positive for the coronavirus. She explains, “I thought I had a minor cold, but I decided to be tested as a precaution,” she shares. “I was shocked when the test came back positive.”
Early on, several other staff members also tested positive for the virus and none required any form of hospitalization. Most staff reported cold or flu-like symptoms like minor fevers and sore throats.
No FX Logistics employee has been self-quarantined for months. Nonetheless, Leesa says they are taking every precaution, such as providing a multivitamin station, taking temperatures, doing extra cleaning, stocking automatic sanitizer dispensers, and reminding everyone to wash hands.
“We let our employees choose whether or not he or she wants to wear a mask. So far, no one has chosen to wear one. Our children will not be required to either,” Leesa says.
Dual-Income Families Face Tough Decisions
Leesa says if she didn’t come up with an educational plan in the office, she’d have valuable team members that would be forced to take a leave of absence or quit so they can stay home and educate their children.
She is also a busy working mother, and her husband works full-time, too.
“We both work in essential businesses, and as parents, we want to make the decisions of what is best for our kids,” she says.
Leesa says this struggle is likely a common one among single parents and all dual-income families right now. In her office, this decision is mostly affecting women.
“I fully support working moms, and I’ll do everything I can to make this difficult time a little less stressful,” she says. “There are also dads who will be faced with this decision, but in our office no one will have to make that decision.”
Sarah Eishen, Customer Relations and Implementation Manager at FX Logistics explains, “If it wasn’t for Leesa’s graciousness and willingness to find a way to make this work for employees, I would have had to choose between being home or continuing to work to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table,” she says. “That’s a tough decision for any parent to make. Thankfully, I don’t have to.”