By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO is documenting the distance learning journey of two Twin Cities families: a single mom balancing her job as a hair stylist while her kids log on to learn at home, and a family of five with a daughter who has disabilities, keeping them all at home so she remains safe.

WCCO checked back in and found out just how much can change in a month.

“You’re not looking at academic teachers here,” Zoua Vang joked when we zoomed with her again.

It’s that sense of humor that has helped to keep them sane as they juggle distance learning in the White Bear Lake School District for an eighth, sixth and second grader. All while candidly capturing it for the news.

“Since the last time we connected Darrell and I kind of went back to the drawing board and said ‘what are we doing here?’ We actually decided it would be best if I step aside and I actually resigned from my job,” Vang said.

Zoua and Darrell Wong no longer wanted to piece-meal school days together like they did in the spring, deciding one parent would be better served as a full-time teacher.

Their daughter Alyssa has Angelman’s Syndrome – meaning any kind of sickness could be severe. Keeping disease out of their house this fall became their only option.

“We expected it to be hard and boy it is hard,” Vang admitted.

There is much more school work for the kids this year and a more rigorous schedule that mom tracks on her refrigerator.

“Checking off everything but am I giving him the critical thinking skills that he’s going to need? I’m thinking ‘what else would the teacher say for this lesson?’” Darrell Wong said.

Still, they worry their kids are missing out since most of their friends are back to their buildings at least twice a week.

“Those are the challenges every day and it isn’t anyone’s fault,” Vang said.

In the Edina School District, the transition back at the Everson household hasn’t exactly been easy, either.

“It’s stressful because I’m at work I have a client with hair color in her hair processing, I’m texting the teacher, I’m trying to call my son on his cell phone,” Chalisa Everson admitted.

As a single mom, Chalisa can’t afford to stay home or to quarantine if she’d have to. She relies on her parents and her seventh grade son to make virtual learning possible.

“He’s like my savior,” Everson said.

Her daughter has dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder.

“They really tried hard this year to do one-on-one with the kids who have special education needs,” Everson has noticed.

Chalisa is happy there is more work for her kids this time around. She’s found staying active throughout the day helps Avery focus.

“Right now they’re doing their best we’re doing our best. We pray and hope that’s enough but we don’t know,” Zoua Vang added.

Click here for tips on how to help your child focus and stay engaged while distance learning.

Liz Collin

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