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Teachers, students turn to tutoring amid coronavirus concerns

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — While families prepare for back to school, some students and teachers are looking for alternative ways to learn, including tutoring.

Jessica Smith said she planned to return to a middle school classroom in Pinellas County this year teaching science. But last week, she decided to resign.

“I just I don’t feel like — especially in Florida — that it’s safe for kids to be back in school and teachers and staff to be back in the building too. They’re doing the best they can with the preparations that they’re taking but I just don’t feel like it’s enough,” she said.

She said she’s always had a dream of one day starting her own school. So now, she’s developing a private tutoring and enrichment program, she says to help supplement school and help parents. She’s starting out part-time with it.

“All the virtual leaves such a gap with the hands-on experience, the socialization the stuff kids really like about school,” Smith said. “I feel like they’re going to be missing this year that goes for the kids at school too.”

She’s not alone.

The National Tutoring Association said they’re seeing more teachers and families are turning to tutoring.

“We’re seeing more teachers probably retiring because of the safety issue when it comes to COVID and being in front of others more frequently, especially with the spread of COVID. We’re also seeing not only parents coming to us but we’re seeing other people from other industries coming to tutoring as well,” said the organization’s president, Ishmael Brown Jr.

Brown also has his own tutoring business, InfiNeXt Educational Solutions. He said when the pandemic hit, he lost all his clients since they were in-person. Since then he says there’s an influx.

“Parents are stuck with not knowing the material, as well as the teacher, and having the patience as a teacher or as a tutor so we have more than our fair share of clients,” he said.

He recommends parents look at online programs and worksheet websites.

“I’ve been doing this for six years so I’m kind of ahead of the ball game,” said Blush Gorsen.

She runs Be Smart Tutoring & Homeschool in a classroom in her house. She works with a small group of children but says she’s seen an uptick in interest.

“I’m noticing that parents are really interested in home school and a different kind of private education,” she said. “There’s a lot of hesitation with parents to send their kids to school to begin with. I know the social climate is of concern as well as COVID and unfortunately for the public school system parents are choosing different things as well as parents coming from private education.”

Some of the tutors recommend parents have patience and ask for help if needed.

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