Wealthy parents are spending up to six figures on pricey pandemic pods, makeshift classrooms and even second homes to make sure their kids keep up during Covid

  • The super rich are spending tens of thousands of dollars to make sure their children don't fall behind while schools turn to remote education.
  • One Los Angeles mother purchased a $400,000 home in Minnesota because the town's school district is conducting in-person classes this fall.
  • Another parent decided to shell out $720 a week on private French lessons for her preschooler when his Dallas school closed for the year. 
  • A mother in California spent $2,000 converting her guest house into a bonafide classroom for her child's exclusive pod.
  • NYC parents are spending up to $70,000 on elite pod teachers, plus $2,500-a-month on studio apartments to serve as makeshift classrooms, plus an additional $50,000 to keep their kids enrolled at their private schools.
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Kacey, a Los Angeles mother, was willing to pay anything to make sure her two kids attended elementary school in-person this year.

Even if that meant coughing up $400,000 to purchase a second home in Minnesota.

"We think kids need to be in school and they will get a better education when they're not learning from a computer at home," said Kacey, who asked that her last name not be used for fear of social backlash. 

Which is why, while on a lakeside vacation in June, Kacey, 37, and her husband decided to splurge on a five bedroom house in a school district planning to resume in-person this fall. 

"We're willing to make the move to ensure our children have the best options for learning," she said. 

They'll leave their home in Los Angeles furnished, but vacant, and they'll turn their Midwest home into a rental property whenever they decide to move back.

"The pandemic has proven that my husband can work remotely and I'll be able to work on the house while the kids are in school," she said.

Kacey's not alone in her willingness to pay up to make sure her kids don't fall behind during the pandemic. According to data from Common Sense Media, a site that provides expert media reviews for parents, more than 50 million public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade will be learning remotely from home this year. And while the study found that approximately 30% of public school students lack internet or adequate computing devices, the wealthy are sparing no expense during Covid, spending tens of thousands on private tutors and guest-houses-turned-classrooms.

Private preschool tutors

In July, when Noelle S. found out her four-year-old son's preschool school would be closed indefinitely, she refused to let him sit home and binge on Daniel Tiger episodes.

"We attend a bilingual private school and want to make sure he continues to learn French during these formative years. We don't want him to fall behind," said Noelle, a 36 year-old mother of two.

She's spending $720 a week for her son to have private French lessons alongside two friends.

"It's too difficult to get rapid tests regularly here, so everyone will be masked," said Noelle, who lives in Dallas, Texas and asked that her last name not be used to protect her family.

A $2,000 guest house-turned-classroom transformation

For Marie L., $2,000 was a small price to pay to give her first grader a "real" classroom experience.

Until last week, Marie's detached 250 square foot dwelling served as her husband's home office, but when the Los Angeles Unified School District announced a virtual learning program for the fall semester, Marie, 33, decided to transform the space.

She ordered desks, a white board, a 50 inch television to live stream zoom tutorials, and built a library and cubbies complete with personalized pencil boxes and workbooks. 

"Unfortunately, chairs were out of stock from Amazon because other people were apparently quicker than I was to furnish their new classrooms," said Marie, who asked that her last name not be used to protect her husband's professional reputation.

Marie, a former teacher, will teach her daughter and five other kids three days a week. 

"I bought a no-touch thermometer to perform temperature checks every morning and I bought an air purifier for the room to give us even more peace of mind," she added. Parents will get tested for coronavirus bi-weekly and students won't bring anything other than a snack to school to minimize the transfer of belongings.

Pandemic pods can run parents up to $100,000, on top of annual private school tuitions

Amanda Uhry, the NYC-based founder of Manhattan Private School Advisors, says parents are going to unbelievable lengths to make sure their kids maintain a competitive edge year.

"We worked with one family — the wife was South African — and they flew on a private jet to South Africa at the beginning of the pandemic in March with their children and two of their kids' private school teachers," said Uhry.


Since Covid hit, Uhry says she's helped form more than 40 educational pods for families, each with five kids and one teacher.  

And joining a pod isn't cheap. In Los Angeles, the going rate for a private tutor can run as high as $350 per hour with a nine hour minimum per week, one mother told Business Insider. 

In NYC, pandemic teachers are commanding roughly $60,000 to $70,000 for the school year — that is, if you can even find one who is available. Add to that, $2,500-a-month for the studio apartments individuals are renting to host the pods.

"People don't want other kids coming into their homes," said Uhry.

In addition to forking over up to six figures for a private instructor, parents are paying their normal $50k per year tuition at private school to hold their spot. 

Says Uhry: "Parents will do anything to make sure their kids succeed." 

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