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"Something is better than nothing" | Mother works to keep kids on track in school, despite them contracting COVID-19

An Oak Ridge mother of twins said it was hard work to keep her children on track with school when they contracted COVID-19 and had to stay home, but said it paid off

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — A mother in Oak Ridge said that her 10-year-old twins caught COVID-19 in school and spent 17 days recovering at home. During that time, she said she was determined to ensure they stayed on track with their academics.

Despite having to learn from home for several weeks, Dionne Harper said neither of them fell behind. They were sent home after four days of in-person learning due to exposure to COVID-19. Later, they started showing mild symptoms and tested positive for the coronavirus.

Luckily, Harper worked from home. She was able to make sure that her daughters, Faith and Dionna, continued learning as if they were still in school.

"I didn't want to send kids back who hadn't been in school in two weeks, and the teacher has to worry about getting them caught back up," she said.

Harper stayed in touch with Faith's and Dionna's teachers, learning about the materials their classes were taught. Then, when her daughters were feeling up to it, she said she guided them through their assignments.

She said that she was angry when they caught COVID-19 and said she felt like the school system did not consider the health and safety of her daughters.

"I worked really hard," she said. "Over Labor Day weekend, we worked the entire weekend just getting them back to where they needed to be."

Despite being able to make sure her children were still on track in school, educators said they understand not families can do what Harper did. Some parents do not have the choice to work from home, and so they can't help their children with assignments if they have to stay home.

"If you can just read a boot at home or do a couple of math problems, practice multiplication," suggested Jessica Normile, a teacher in Anderson County. "Something is better than nothing."

All schools in Oak Ridge have a mask mandate in place, but parents can request a form to opt-out.