‘I used all my time off’: some parents in tough positions as fall semester approaches

Some of the toys in Yvonne LaChar's yard where she takes care of her 5 grandchildren.
Some of the toys in Yvonne LaChar's yard where she takes care of her 5 grandchildren.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 7:36 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - One would be hard-pressed to find any parent who’s excited about the upcoming school year. As the summer has progressed, there have been many suggestions for parents to work from home when they can, try to work with employers for time off, hiring babysitters and other ideas that can serve as a temporary solution for a lot of parents. However, some parents know that those things are not going to work for them.

Take Rachel Kenshalo for example. She said she works in business development for about 50 hours a week. In fact, the pandemic has been making her work life even busier she said.

She said she’s pretty grateful that her 13-year-old is pretty smart and independent because she’s raising her as a single mom.

“So already I think I’d be stressed, but now with trying to create a good school environment for my kid in my little 800 square foot condo is adding to it,” she said.

Kenshalo said she can work with her boss to get her schedule shifted to be with her daughter more, but it doesn’t sound like an ideal schedule going in at 6 a.m. and leaving at two in time to get her daughter going.

As far as her child’s education goes, she said she’s not worried about her kid getting her work done, but she is worried about the engagement levels there.

“Now more than ever, it’s really important to me to make sure that she’s getting some stimulation,” she said. “You know they stare at screens so often that when you’ve got education coming through that screen as well I wonder if we’re raising a little tribe of robot people.”

Kenshalo feels that the way school is about to be is realistic but no where near sustainable.

Yvonne LaChar also has some added challenges at her house, but in different ways.

LaChar is a grandma raising five kids, but she gets some help from her own children and her husband. She said they’re a handful, and at times they have a very difficult time concentrating on school because of learning handicaps like attention deficit disorder.

For work, LaChar works with special needs children in preschool, however, she said even that didn’t help with her kids at home.

She said she’s already used her paid time off during the end of last school year, getting a babysitter for that many kids is too expensive, and other options make her uncomfortable during the pandemic with people outside of her family coming into her home.

Not to mention, she said she’s a bit old school and not a big fan of online learning. She said at one point, she had about 44 emails from several different teachers that should could hardly keep organized or tell which kid matched which teacher.

“When your 10-year-old can figure it out faster than you, it doesn’t give you a whole lot of confidence,” she said.

As the school year approaches, she’s banking on her husband helping out with the time off he has, but she’s ready for things to get back to normal and get her kids back in school where they have the resources to help with her children.

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