By Bailey Pennycuff / Co-Sports Editor

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, many people are forced to find ways around it while also dealing with the daily stressors in life.

Remember back in March when parents were riding the struggle bus with their children attending school virtually? Well, now those parents have to go to work every day and also make sure their children are learning.

The struggle bus is now an airplane. And it might be free-falling through the air, bracing for a crash landing.

Hutchinson Community College softball coach Jaime Rose has two daughters, Taylor (13) and Codi (10). Taylor attends Chisholm Middle School and Codi goes to Santa Fe 5/6 Center, both located in Newton.

Both children are going to school face-to-face every day, like normal.

“Taylor started the year in hybrid where she went Monday and Tuesday and was remote the rest of the week. Newton school board votes every week what mode (in-person, hybrid, or fully remote) they will be in for the following week,” Rose said.

Hutchinson Community College baseball coach Ryan Schmidt is also a parent of young children. He has four sons and two daughters – Owen (14); Josiah (12); Ellie (10); Abel (8); Dominic (6); and Augie (11 months).

The two oldest attend Prairie Hills Middle School in the Buhler district, and the next three go to Holy Cross Catholic School. All are attending school in person.

“It is my sincere hope that the kids are able to stay in school for the entirety of the semester,” Schmidt said. “My kids enjoy learning in class and they like the social element to school. They enjoy the relationships with their teachers as well,” Schmidt said.

Lately, the elephant in the room has been when, or whether or not, the schools will get shut down again, or at least change the learning format.

“I think at some point, we will see a spike in cases and they will go back to hybrid. The hope is that we can avoid having to go fully remote like last March,” Rose said.

Rose’s children and Schmidt’s children are all being required to wear a mask for school.

“They have been making the necessary adjustments. Going to school with a mask on is an adjustment for anyone. Temp checks to start the day gets them in the door,” Schmidt said. “So far, they have had a positive attitude towards the changing environment.”

Schmidt is also getting used to the mask protection guidelines because he is also a teacher here at HutchCC, teaching Introduction to Sport Management and Theory of Baseball.

“We are doing what we have to do to stay in school. I love the relationships I have with the students in my class,” Schmidt said.

During the time of hybrid classes, Rose noticed some difficulties.

“Taylor is not a fan of hybrid. She has done well with it, but there has definitely been some frustrating days and evenings trying to find, understand and turn in material,” Rose said. “Online learning can be difficult for college students, so imagine being 13.”

Overcoming these stressors is part of the new routine. Rather than handing a paper to your teacher may not be so simple anymore.

“I just try to take one day at a time. I explain to her that getting frustrated isn’t going to help the situation. Let’s step away from it and then come back and try to figure it out. I’ve also given a few math lessons via FaceTime,” Rose said.

When everything shut down in March, the coaches did not have much coaching to focus on. Sizable adjustments had to be made.

“All five kids in school were trying to do it at the same time under the same roof. It was hard to keep them on task and organized because of all the distractions. My wife was the saint that kept everyone organized and on task. I loved the fact that I got to spend a lot of time with Augie that I wouldn’t have otherwise,” Schmidt said.

Other adjustments, unrelated to school, were made in the Rose household.

“I wasn’t concerned about their schoolwork, by the middle of March, the biggest chunk of learning for that grade level had already taken place. I thought both kids’ teachers did an excellent job of adjusting on the fly and helping the kids finish the school year,” Rose said. “We did, however, struggle with being stuck at home all the time. Normally, we are so busy that we are never home, so that was the biggest adjustment for us.”

In every negative situation, positives can be found. Sometimes you have to look really, really hard – but they’re there.

“We learned how to slow down and take the time to do things we don’t get to do very much – like kayaking, bike riding, and taking our dog on walks together. Our dog got more walks in March, April and May than he probably had in his lifetime,” Rose said.

Improvising has been a large part of 2020, especially for coaches who have young children. Going back to remote learning would not be ideal, but it is something that both Rose and Schmidt are prepared to handle.

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