NTI and parents helping students

Jamie Ranes helping his son with NTI. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Virtual learning has had a big impact on the workforce across the country, with some parents even quitting their jobs to help their children complete school assignments.

JCPS hasn't had in-person classes since March of last year, instead relying on NTI (non-traditional instruction). That means parents must make the time needed to supervise their children's class work on a daily basis. 

The Ranes family is one of many Jefferson County families with several children at home. Both parents, Jamie and Erin, are involved with helping their three Conway Middle School students with online learning. 

Like other families, the Ford Louisville Assembly Plant workers found the balance of NTI and their jobs a big struggle. 

The students now have separate work spaces set up in different areas of the home. And Erin says Jamie is tech savvy, so they installed "four in-home cameras that look over the areas the kids are doing their NTI work in. I work day shift and he works night shift, so he was here, but he was sleeping and I was at work with cameras pulled up watching them."

Erin tried to help the kids while on break remotely at times through the cameras. But she says the kids ended up having questions for her husband anyway. "They'd go in and wake him up. 'What's happening in my next class?' 'Can you help me with this?' 'I don't understand this.'"

Erin says she'd tell the children: "You know he has to work."

Jamie Ranes says on some days he'd only get about 45 minutes of sleep. So the family made the difficult decision: one of them would have to quit their job. And that's what Jamie did in October.

"This was the very last resort that we were trying to hold out on," Jamie said, "because we heard so many horror stories of people in the same situation fighting the same fight."

According to the Marketplace-Edison Research Poll, 1 in 5 parents have quit their job or taken leave to deal with remote school. As a result, analysts say the workforce has lost many highly qualified people.  

"We have two children that are ADHD," Erin said. "Being able do this on their own is not going to happen because we have to continually redirect them.'

Michelle Hill understands the struggle too. Her son, 5-year-old kindergartener Stuart Hill, is autistic. She says with NTI, "It's all been difficult."

Luckily Michelle is able to help Stuart with online school because her medical processing job that she does from home allows flexible hours.

"I'm a single parent to a different needs child," Hill said. "Therapies are expensive. Insurance doesn't cover all of it and I've got to make sure we have a roof over our head."

Michelle's work hours are now scheduled around Stuart's assignments at Medora Elementary School. But she must now work seven days a week to make sure she gets enough hours on the job. 

"I'm up at 4 a.m. every day and I generally don't go to bed till right about 10 p.m. every evening," Hill said. "I start working at about 6 a.m. And after, I clock out anywhere to 8:00 or 8:45, to get him ready for his morning meetings."

The hardships are causing stress for so many families. The Ranes are hoping school returns to in-person classes soon, allowing some parents to return to the workforce.

Meanwhile Jamie says "We're doing everything we can to make ends meet."

Jamie has also applied for unemployment. Like thousands of others, he hasn't been paid his full amount of unemployment, as he tries to get help from the state.

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