WAUKEE, Iowa -- Heading back to school after spring break is a big change for students across the country like Ben Plaisance, a fifth grade student in Waukee.
"I kind of expected to go to school today and then I woke up and remembered I'm not going to school. I'm going to school at home," said Ben.
With COVID-19 concerns shutting down Iowa schools, Lara Plaisance of Waukee and her husband are balancing their full-time jobs remotely along with being home-school principal for their three kids ages 11, 9 and 2. Lara said, "He and I are just tag-teaming and working in two-hour shifts, so one of us has dedicated work time while the other is with the kids and then we switch."
A full curriculum from choir and art to STEM and English is lined up for the children. "It helps the whole family if we can stay in some type of schedule and keep our brains engaged," Lara said.
Everyday items in their home are turned into learning tools. "We have some Mad Libs books we are using during language arts to know the parts of speech," said Lara. Boxed up toys serve a purpose. "Legos are probably the easiest. We can use it for math and spacial thinking."
Ben says one key education class made the cut. "I think we have PE tomorrow, so that's fun. It's probably my favorite."
It hasn't been all fun. Adding to the stress of unexpected teaching, Crosby the 2-year-old became ill with a fever and underwent COVID-19 testing last Tuesday, March 17. Lara said, "We immediately were concerned it was just after community spread had been announced in Dallas County."
The results came back negative on Monday, providing good news in an uncertain time. "We are going to continue to quarantine even though we know we are negative, just out of safety of others," said Lara.
They are providing one of the most valuable lesson plans of all, that family is forever. "We are usually running around in a million different directions between sports, piano lessons and church night, so it's been odd being home. We are sitting down having dinner together as a family, which is very nice. Check in with me in a few weeks and see if we are still smiling," said Lara with a laugh.
Lara says the curriculum is very loose and mainly self-guided by the boys with the exception of math.