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Parents, businesses collaborating to find spaces for virtual learning

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Virtual Learning Spaces Web Photo

COTTAGE GROVE (WKOW) -- Many school districts, including Monona Grove, have settled on a virtual start to the year, but many parents are still trying to figure out how to make it all work.

Immediately after Monona Grove announced the virtual start to the year, Paula Severson started a Facebook group called "Monona Grove Distance Learning Support."

"One of the struggles that we faced in the spring -- I have an 8th grader -- was that isolation," Severson said. "Or even asking a friend, 'I need help with a math problem, can you help me out?'"

The Facebook group connects parents, businesses and others in the community so everyone can better prepare for the fall.

One of the businesses offering up its space as a place for students to learn virtually is Infinity Martial Arts.

"Whatever they decide for the schooling, we'll make sure that they have a hotspot, that things are set up," said Justin Godfriaux, who runs the studio in Cottage Grove.

He says he'll be accepting 10 students at first (the same number of martial artists he trains at a time), and then re-evaluating if there's a higher demand.

Godfriaux says all Infinity Martial Arts locations are providing a similar service, depending on whatever the plans are in the local school districts.

“We are just providing one choice," he said. "A small place, controlled environment, make sure it’s safe.”

Parents are also using the Facebook group to organize learning spaces at peoples' houses -- which begs the question, does this all defeat the purpose of virtual learning?

Severson says not as long as the learning spaces are small and follow proper precautions.

"Obviously, if there are parents with health concerns or underlying health conditions, maybe that's not a good match for them," she said. "But for those who don't, and maybe have a space on a deck or a bigger space, I think this is an okay thing."

Her daughter, Lilly, will do classwork with just one other student this fall.

At Infinity Martial Arts, Godfriaux says he's planning to have the same 10 kids each day -- much smaller and safer, in his opinion, than a classroom.

“There’s so many variables when you get every kid together," he said. "Sure, this is a little bit of a school setting, but it’s more controlled, it’s smaller.”

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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