KJZZ is a service of Rio Salado College,
and Maricopa Community Colleges

Copyright © 2024 KJZZ/Rio Salado College/MCCCD
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Schools and nursing homes relied on volunteers and unpaid caregivers. Then COVID-19 hit

Schools and nursing homes have a few things in common: They often rely on unpaid support in the form of parent volunteers or family caregivers. When COVID-19 hit, both settings were forced to restrict access to these individuals. 

Before the pandemic, parents at Madison Rose Lane Elementary School played an integral role in the classroom.

"That could range from running a small group, having kids read to them, help them with math, or setting up activities for the teacher or preparing materials to be used in the future," she said.

That’s Principal Rose Divine. After a few months online, students returned to in-person learning, but parents were not allowed on campus.

"And that was very difficult," Divine said. "It was such an abrupt shift from having a school that was completely operational. Kids on campus, parents on campus, teachers doing their job to having nothing."

Family caregivers play a similar role in terms of supporting paid staff. They help at mealtimes or offer companionship.

When families were locked out, it took a toll on their loved one’s health and wellbeing

Deanne Poulos is with Duet, which supports family caregivers

"The family caregivers who were not able to visit, were concerned that their loved one was languishing sort of going downhill; not as responsive as they used to be; losing some weight," she said.

It has been a long 24 months for both schools and nursing homes but parents and caregivers are once again reestablishing their roles in their respective communities. 

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.