Jennifer Stein has been pulling double duty since the coronavirus forced the closure of Camden County schools last week.
Stein, a ninth-grade science teacher at Camden County High School, has a 6-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter she is taking care of while school is out. She stays in constant contact with her son’s kindergarten teacher to ensure he keeps up with his school work.
“His teacher sends me daily activities,” she said. “She’s putting out a lot of things to do.”
Stein is also busy staying in contact with the 70 students she teaches to try to keep them on track academically.
“I’m still trying to teach from home,” she said. “We are using Google Classroom for homework and assignments.”
Stein said she asks students to go to different websites to keep up with their academics. She also stays in constant contact with parents to encourage them to make sure their children spend time every day with classroom assignments.
On Tuesday, Stein met with students online for an hour to discuss homework assignments, answer questions, correct mistakes and see how everyone is faring.
“It was nice to see their faces,” she said.
Only 16 out of her 70 students went online for the meeting, but Stein said she is confident the majority of her students are keeping up with their assignments as much as possible.
“I would say they are not learning as much as they would if they were with me in the classroom,” she said. “But they understand there are still things that need to be done this semester.”
School officials have decided no tests will be administered until classes resume and students are evaluated to see where they are academically.
So far, Stein said she hasn’t heard anything from her students out of the ordinary.
“Considering what we’re dealing with, I think they are all stepping up to the plate,” she said. “I’m proud of the maturity of my kids.”
The one concern is students without internet access. Stein said many parents have smartphones so she can contact them with assignments they can pass onto their children.
“I’ve been in constant contact with parents through email and text messages,” she said.
When not teaching, Stein still has two children to deal with at home. She said her son understands why he has to stay indoors and can’t see his friends, though he isn’t happy about it.
“Not going to school is a good way not to spread germs,” she told her son. “This is a bad sickness and it’s better to stay home.”
The 2-year-old who normally goes to daycare at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay where her father works poses a different challenge.
“She doesn’t understand why her mother and brother are working at home all day instead of playing,” she said.
Stein’s mother-in-law, Genna Stein, is the director of a day school in St. Marys with an enrollment of 136 children.
Her staff also stays in constant contact with parents to check on their children.
“I’m sure some of these babies are restless,” she said. “It’s hard.”
The most difficult part is not knowing what to tell working parents who are struggling to care for their children and keep their jobs at the same time.
“I have a manual for health care, tornadoes, hurricanes, natural disasters and everything else,” she said. “I don’t have a manual for this.”