Marianne O’Hara is the mom of five kids, taught special education for 13 years and knew she needed a plan.
She and her husband, Jim, own Focus Martial Arts & Fitness in Lake in the Hills in the Northwest Suburbs. They had a space, and as local classes were set to start remotely in August, they had an idea.
“Mostly, we knew we needed a safe, clean space for kids whose parents work full-time,” Marianne O’Hara says. “A lot of these parents did not have any options when school districts rolled out a plan to learn remotely a week and half before school started. Some parents were not prepared, and a lot were single moms who have jobs out of the home and nowhere to put their child.”
The O’Haras converted their karate dojo from a fitness center into a learning center, complete with socially distanced desks, “coaches” available to make sure that kids can access online classes and scheduled exercise time.
Focus Martial Arts & Fitness becomes Focus Learning Center during the school day and will remain open as long as classes in the area are run remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conversion of play spaces to learning spaces has taken off across Chicagoland.
Families whose parents have jobs that aren’t remote can find solutions that ensure their children are monitored, safe and learning even as classes are taught through a computer.