A Microscope of the Model Home, Issue 2

To Pod or Not to Pod

After Parker announced a fully virtual return to school for the Upper School, many, including the administration, were in search of unique ways to meet the social and emotional needs of isolated, Brady-Bunch-box contained students. Many parents and students wondered why similar poding to the Lower School could not be implemented for Upper School students. While Parker administrators had inboxes full of complaints, creative ideas, and questions about the operation of the Upper School, these bombardments have, in most cases, not resulted in answers, but some steps have been taken to bring more students on campus for different activities.

Some groups of students, in search for a less isolated virtual class experience and everyday social interaction, have created pods of students who take online classes and eat lunch together. While not ideal, these pods still give students the ability to rebuild the social skills so many of us lost during COVID-19 and get a change of scenery for the school day. While pods are amazing opportunities, they are also not a possibility for a lot of students. 

I have heard stories of being able to hear the teacher from the class one student is in every time another student in the pod wants to speak. This only adds to my list of worries of the efficiency and ability for students to learn within pod environments. Additionally, it can be challenging for students who are distracted to speak up and tell their friends, causing a hindrance in their learning.

However, I am most concerned with the silence from the administration when concerns about poding are brought up, especially because we have an administration that enjoys involving itself in outside of school issues. I wonder why the school has chosen silence on this issue. Additionally, if this is something that the administration supports, why haven’t they provided support in helping students find pods or other alternative ways to be social. If the administration doesn’t support poding, or believes it is dangerous (due to the current coronavirus regulations), do they have the obligation to dissuade families from engaging in this behavior? Parker is also a school that prides itself on inclusivity. There is even a rule that all students must be invited to all b’nai mitzvah, so shouldn’t the administration worry about the exclusive nature of pods. What happens to the socially isolated student who doesn’t know how to speak up and get the human interaction they need to thrive? Additionally, a lot of concerns around social and economic equity comes up when students start poding. What about students that are immunocompromised or have immunocompromised family members? What about students who would be unable to obtain safe transportation to pods? Shouldn’t all students have the ability to return socialization to their education. 

The age of the coronavirus has presented numerous new ways to be cliquey and exclusive, the newest of which is poding. While keeping your circle small is best for your own health and safety, the exclusivity of it seems antithetical to the mission of our institution.