With many schools going online-only or adopting staggered schedules with distance learning days, some families are banding together to form at-home “pandemic pods” to provide child care, structure, socialization and educational help for their pod of children.
Here are a few tips to finding a pod sitter or nanny to teach, tutor, or supervise for your pandemic pod, or visit our Guide to Pandemic Pods for a full step-by-step guide to forming and running your pod.
Determine your needs and budget
What you are looking for in a pod sitter and how much you’re willing to pay? If your pod is academically focused a.k.a. a “learning pod,” you may want a sitter with a teacher or tutor background and credentials, which will come with a higher pay rate. You can also expect to pay more per child if your children are very young (i.e. a “play pod” for infants and toddlers) or if there are fewer children in your pod. The average rate for a pod sitter on UrbanSitter ranges from $10-15 per hour per child.
Write a detailed job description
Your job description should outline responsibilities and expectations, including the number of children and families, length of commitment, hours, location and rate. Be sure to share the ages and grade levels of the children and disclose any learning disabilities or special circumstances.
Some schools provide a distance learning curriculum, while others do not, so you should note if the sitter is expected to create their own curriculum. Additionally, indicate what type of interaction, if any, the children will have with their school (video classes, assignments from teachers, online tools, etc.).
Your job description should also describe the learning space (is it your backyard or does the venue rotate from house-to-house) and the learning supplies that will be provided. It will also be important to note if parents or other adults will be in the home during pod hours. Most importantly, disclose COVID-19 requirements and commitments to safety.
Sample job description for a pod sitter:
Our group of three families is looking for a tutor to help our three first graders 5 days a week in a “pod”. All three kids are well-behaved and get along. Note: One child has mild dyslexia, so experience with that is a plus! The kids are distance learning with their curriculum from Washington Elementary School.
All of our families live in the same neighborhood and we’ll set up a learning space in my backyard. You’ll be provided with all supplies and a picnic table. Each child will have a tablet with wifi. My husband and I will be home but we will stay inside of our office while you’re here. Parents will drop off their kids at 9 am and pick them up at 3 pm.
COVID testing & safety: We’ll ask you to follow CDC guidelines and check your temperature every morning before coming. We’ll also pay for your regular testing and add you to our UrbanSitter family plan for test & symptom monitoring.
Interview qualified candidates
Next, use a child care site like UrbanSitter to find pod sitter candidates to interview. UrbanSitter makes it easy to find background-checked, qualified candidates with advanced search filters for type of teaching experience, COVID-19 related screening questions, and COVID-19 test monitoring & symptom checking in partnership with Collective Go™. Pod jobs on UrbanSitter receive an average of 20 applicants or more in most areas.
In preparation for your interview, pod families may want to meet ahead of time to discuss the interview questions that will be asked or to decide if one parent will lead the interview process, screening a longer list of candidates to narrow the list down to top picks for the rest of the families to meet. Video call interviews conveniently allow all families to join in at the same time.
Hire and check in regularly
Once you’ve selected your pod sitter, hire them using a booking app such as UrbanSitter, which conveniently allows you to schedule weekly dates and times and set up payments by credit card.
To encourage communication between you and your pod sitter, schedule regular check-ins to talk about how things are going, what needs to be adjusted, and to give and receive feedback. Be sure to coordinate in advance with the other pod families about how and when feedback will be shared to ensure the pod sitter isn’t receiving conflicting feedback from the different families. Also, check regularly that you are complying with your state and county’s COVID-19 and child care licensing policies.