Virginia Public School County Discourages Parents from Hiring Private Tutors, forming “Pods”

Fairfax Public Schools in Virginia is actively discouraging parents for hiring private tutors for their children and forming “tutoring pods” while not offering in-person instruction due to the pandemic.

In a memo, the county argued “we do have concerns that they may widen the gap in educational access and equity for all students.”

Last month, NBC reported on the phenomena of “Pandemic Pods.”

WATCH:

From Fairfax County Public Schools:

Message for Parents on Tutoring Pods

Across the country, many parents are joining together to engage private tutors (who are often school teachers) to provide tutoring or home instruction for small groups of children. While there is no systematic way to track these private efforts, it’s clear that a number of “pandemic pods” or tutoring pods are being established in Fairfax County.

We are aware of these tutoring pods, as well as some accompanying community concerns. To be clear, these instructional efforts are not supported by or in any way controlled by FCPS—for several reasons:

•    These are purely private initiatives on the part of parents and families. Families have an absolute right to work together and pool resources to provide instruction or tutoring—just as they do to pool resources and provide private daycare, music lessons, or recreational activities for their children—but tutoring pods are not part of the public school system.

•    Under the terms of their contracts, FCPS teachers are allowed to provide tutoring services for reimbursement, but only as long as they meet these conditions:

  • Teachers must make it clear that the services are being provided as an independent contractor, and not as an employee of FCPS.
  • They cannot tutor children for private compensation if the same children are receiving instruction from them in FCPS schools (i.e., the children cannot be in their classes). That’s true for private tutoring or group instruction in any location.
  • They cannot engage in outside instruction or any preparation for it during their FCPS work hours.

While FCPS doesn’t and can’t control these private tutoring groups, we do have concerns that they may widen the gap in educational access and equity for all students. Many parents cannot afford private instruction. Many working families can’t provide transportation to and from a tutoring pod, even if they could afford to pay for the service.