LOS ANGELES — While the Los Angeles Unified School District and the majority of California's schools remain closed, more parents are turning to learning pods to supplement online teaching.

What You Need To Know

  • A learning pod generally refers to a small group of children gathered together where a tutor facilitates the learning

  • Learning pods are gaining popularity in California due to the closure of schools amid the pandemic

  • Tam Ly's Ace It! Tutoring center in Woodland Hills reopened last month

  • Some parents are desperate to see their kids socializing again and are now turning to centers like Ly's for a solution

"Students have trouble asking questions online," said Tam Ly, who runs Ace It! Tutoring in Woodland Hills. "That’s the biggest problem with online tutoring: You get the instructions, but you don’t get the feedback from the students."

Ly re-opened his tutoring center about a month ago to a very different educational world.

"The demand has increased dramatically. I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls in terms of what we’re offering, in terms off pods, in-home as well," Ly said.

His groups can have up to five students, usually a mix of siblings or friends from the same school.

Although coronavirus cases continue to climb in Los Angeles county, Ly says more parents seem willing to take a risk, as they are desperate for their kids to get some kind of socialization.

"Most parents are getting to the point where they want to have their kids interact," Ly said. "Now, we’re starting to sense that there’s a little bit of a decline in terms of how cautious they are."

The Loizu sisters come to Ace It! to learn and interact with a tutor for a couple hours per day, five days a week. Their mom, Katherine England, says that like many parents, she’s been frustrated by the online learning situation. She feels her daughters aren’t getting a quality education at home or much support from their teachers, leaving her to fill in the gaps.

"They need the social interaction," England said. "Being home and being on the computer is not good."

"It’s difficult to teach your own child, if that makes sense, and so a lot of parents are finding relief in that they get to send their kids somewhere, and they know they’re going to be learning," Ly said.

He also plans to start in-home pods when the school year starts, but the challenge has been matching tutors with parents and having everyone feel comfortable. Not all tutors are willing to go to someone’s house.

"A lot of people are afraid of getting infected and bringing it back to their family, and so going in-home is a problem that we have to overcome as well," Ly said. "Is the learning outdoors, indoors? Different tutors have different needs that they want in a home, as well as parents have different needs that they want from a tutor, and so we try to blend as much of those needs as we can."

As parents grapple with the best way to educate their kids, Ly is constantly assessing the best way to help and hoping the numbers add up.