"I just took that picture because I wanted people to see reality," mom Jana Coombs said of snapping the photo of her son in distress

By Georgia Slater
August 26, 2020 04:45 PM
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Jana Coombs

One Georgia mom is showing this year's adjustment to virtual learning is adding stress to the milestone of beginning kindergarten.

Jana Coombs' 5-year-old son was ready to head to kindergarten in Coweta County this year when his school shifted to remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During one of his online lessons, Coombs saw that her son was struggling and frustrated with trying to assimilate to a distance learning lifestyle. He was so upset with the experience that he put his head down and cried, using his t-shirt to wipe his tears.

The mother of four couldn't bear to see her little boy so distraught at school, so she decided to snap a photo of the emotional moment to raise awareness about the harsh realities of online learning.

"I just took that picture because I wanted people to see reality," Coombs told WXIA. "And then he came over and we hugged and I was crying right along with him."

Though she believes students are missing out on gaining important skills that can only be learned during in-person classes, she tells PEOPLE she's grateful for the teachers working hard to navigate a challenging situation.

"Education is essential for these children, and it's more than one plus one equals two," Coombs told CNN. "Socialization and hands-on experience is how elementary kids learn best."

Distance learning is difficult for the parents to adjust to as well, Coombs added.

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"Juggling a household, having an infant in the house, getting 5,000 emails a day from all their teachers, trying to keep up...different apps, different codes, different platforms, some links don't work," she told WXIA, adding that she is constantly "running from one laptop to another."

While many teachers go "above and beyond to make this as painless as possible," she said, the remote learning experience adds stress for the entire family.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 5.8 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the virus and at least 179,215 have died, according to The New York Times.

Many schools in states like Georgia and Alabama have chosen to reopen as others opt for remote learning or a mix of virtual and in-person classes. Parents and teachers, too, have wrestled with the decision of in-person classes versus remote learning or homeschooling.

Earlier this month, teachers provided PEOPLE with their expert tips on how to best support your child as they take on learning from home this school year.

Some of their best advice included creating a specific place for your child to learn, keeping your children on a schedule, making time for breaks, implementing a reward system and considering your child's emotions during this difficult time.

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