Announcing Pearachute Learning Pods

Our children missed more than just math and science this spring.  They missed the additional growth that comes from sharing, listening to instructions, learning a new sport, and experimenting with new creative mediums.  It is our hope that we can combat that loss by bringing children back together.

This Fall, Pearachute is launching a new program designed to help Chicago students experience social, emotional, and physical enrichment they will miss from e-learning.

The new initiative called Learning Pods will allow families to sign up for pods for their children four weeks at a time, to minimize exposure and create as much flexibility as possible.  We recognize that different parents will have different levels of comfort with exposure, so we will offer three different pod styles: 

1) In-home Learning Pods will group children from the same grades at the same schools into 5-6 child pods with an early education college student, who will supervise them as they navigate e-learning and break up the time with stimulating activities, much as students would experience in an actual classroom.  Pearachute can assign your child to a pod in your school, or you can create your own pods, and Pearachute will find you a counselor. 

2) In-Center Learning Pods will take place at activity providers’ locations and will have groups of no more than 10 children.  Providers’s staff will supervise e-learning and break up the time with activities specific to that provider (music, art, sports, etc.).

3) Virtual Learning Pods will take place via zoom with and early education college student, experienced caregiver, and former educators.  Children will be grouped by the same grade and school when possible but may have children from around the city participating, as well. 

The American Association of Pediatrics “strongly advocates” students returning to in person instruction.  And educators across the city are doing their best to create a flexible schedule that will allow that to happen.  But as states around the country see surges in COVID-19 cases, returning to the classroom full time seems impossible. 

By creating a flexible, low exposure mechanism for children to engage with each other, we hope to support Chicago families through any scenario this fall.

In response to the growing disparity between higher and lower income students, Pearachute will create scholarships and financial aid to support students whose families cannot afford the full price of Learning Pods.

Please click the button below to register.  Registration will require a one-time enrollment fee of $100 to cover the cost of hiring, coordinating, and background checking Learning Pod Counselors, 

Early FAQ’s

How will pods work?

Parents will reserve a pod spot on Pearachute, paying a one time $100 coordination fee per child.  They will then receive a questionnaire to determine their preferences for in-home, in-center, or virtual pods.  

Children will be assigned to pods with other children in their grade and in most cases at the same school.  The exception may be with virtual pods, which can theoretically have students from many parts of the city and suburbs but who would all be in the same grade. 

Once families know which days they will be assigned school instruction, Pearachute will send out the registration links for their assigned pods.  Families will sign up for 4 weeks at a time to minimize exposure and allow for changing pod types as risks and school options evolve over the Fall. 

Pods will operate in approximately 4 hour time slots.  In-center pods will have a break between groups to clean all surfaces and prepare for the next group. 

Families may form pods and still register with Pearachute to have us help coordinate the counselor. 

How often do pods meet and when?

You can decide how many pods per week you would like to sign up for in the questionnaire following registration.  Once we have finalized our Learning Pod Counselors and In-Center Pods, we will email your family options to register for your first set of Learning Pods. 

How much does it cost?

Depending on the pod format, parents can expect to pay around $8-10 per child per hour.  However there may be additional supplies costs for activities.  Pearachute will be working with families who cannot afford the full price of Learning Pods to receive scholarships and financial aid. To apply for financial support, please click here.  

How do we register with friends?

After you register, you can list the names of students you would like to be paired with, and we will do our best to match you.  You may also form your pod before registering and indicate which children will be in your pod.  Please note that all children in a pod will need to be registered before they can sign up for the final Learning Pod. 

We highly recommend that parents add friends on the Pearachute site and download our app with push notification so that you can get instantly notified when your friends book a pod.  

Who will be the Pod Leaders?

Pod Leaders will for the most part be Early Education majors from Chicago area universities, many of them will be rising seniors and will be using this time as a complement to their virtual student teaching. 

What if we are not matched with a Learning Pod?

If we are unable to find a suitable in-person or in-center Learning Pod for your children, you will have the option of participating in virtual Learning Pods or you can receive a refund for your registration fee.  

What happens if a child in the group gets exposed or sick? 

If a child is reported COVID-19 positive or is exposed, the group will convert to a virtual learning pod and members should self-quarantine for 14 days per the CDC guidelines.  

Additionally, if the Pod Leader is exposed or becomes sick, the group will convert to virtual for 14 days and a new leader will be assigned if the previous leader is unable to return to work. 

How will Pod leaders keep the children safe? 

We are hoping to align families with similar risk comfort levels, to allow each Learning Pod to create their own rules and norms.  We will make suggestions to pods, such as recommending parents take their children’s temperature via video to send to the Pod Leader before in-person instruction. 

Additionally, children should wear masks and do social distance work and activities.  

How will the Pod Leader get our children’s assignments?

Children will be responsible for bringing their own devices with them each day. Devices should be charged and charging cables should be packed in their bags as well as headphones for video instruction.  Any handouts or work packets should be printed in advance and brought with the children to their sessions.  Printers will not be available on site. 

How much school work will the children complete each day? 

It is our hope that the majority of the school work will get done each day with their Pod Leaders, however CPS is estimating 4-5 hours of work each day, which may require students to complete some work at home. 

Ready to register for a Learning Pod?