Parents adapt to news of all-virtual start in Madison schools, some turn to tutoring

MADISON, Wis. — With Madison Metropolitan School District’s announcement about starting the school year virtually, parents are trying to figure out how they will adapt.

Cherine Shaaf, the owner and education director at Raise the Grade tutoring, said she doubled her business this summer compared to last, and now she said that might carry into the fall.

Shaaf was in Michigan when the news broke, and she said she learned when parents started reaching out to her.

“Well I tried to sit down four times to eat breakfast and I couldn’t because the phone was ringing,” she said. “I’ve been talking with parents ever since.”

Shaaf said she’s worried about parents this fall, and they are worried about their kids.

“There’s two things that worry them,” she said. “One is the fact they don’t really know how to teach their kids the curriculum that is being taught today in their school district. They’re worried they’re not doing it properly. And the second, of course, is time because they have to work themselves.”

Alie Fanello, a parent of two, counts herself lucky her in-home daycare job keeps her home, but for her high-school kids, the curriculum gets her.

“Both of our kids, they’ve kind of grown out of us being able to help them,” Fanello said. “You know when they have trigonometry and advanced algebra and Spanish, I can’t help them with that stuff.”

She’s hoping for some sort of live class this fall where her kids can ask questions then instead of working out problems over email, but still she’s not happy about what her kids will have to miss out on.

“I’ve seen firsthand the effects not being around other kids socially has had on several teens in my life, and it’s scary and sad,” Fanello said. “There’s more to school than just books and learning.”

It’s not an easy situation for parent or student, and as a former teacher Shaaf knows it’s not simple for anyone.

“I wish I knew,” she said. “I wish I knew the answer. I don’t know the answer to that. We’re all just doing the best we can.”

For people that can’t afford a tutor, Shaaf said she’s trying to fit in as much pro bono work as she can and is donating to local resources. She recommended finding a family member or anyone that might be able to help. She said focus on keeping up the core skills of math, reading and writing.