Why parents are considering 'learning pods' for the fall semester

Desks sit distant from each other in a gym.
Students work in a gym at Banfield Elementary that has been repurposed so they can work on activities and engage in distance learning while implementing social distancing.
Courtesy of Austin Public Schools file

With all the disruptions to the traditional school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a spike in interest in alternative school options — like home schooling, “learning pods” and microschools. (Never heard of the last two? We’ll get into that.)

Some parents are hoping alternative methods will help them have more control over their students’ education, with some kids doing distance learning or a hybrid of distance learning and classroom learning, for the foreseeable future.

And with the new school year right around the corner, many families are trying to figure out these alternative solutions fast. 

MPR News host Angela Davis explores alternatives to classroom learning and solo distance learning, and their pros and cons.


  • Sonia Toomey is a Minneapolis mom whose three children will be in learning pods this fall.

  • Maggie McCracken is the executive director of Edina Give and Go, an organization that supports children in the city living at or below the poverty line.

  • Mara Linaberger is the founder and COO of Microschool Builders, an organization that trains educators on starting their own microschools.

  • Matt Vanbenschoten is a father of two who was home-schooled through high school.

Use the audio player above to listen to the program.

Subscribe to the MPR News with Angela Davis podcast on: Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify or RSS.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.