As the nation's children head back to school, it's clear that for many, the school year will be like none before.
With many students learning remotely, some families are looking at ways to take advantage of what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to take their families out of their hometown and on vacation at a time of year when it would typically not be practical. It's a silver lining in what many parents think will be a difficult year ahead.
Hotels in the U.S. and Mexico are offering distance-learning vacations with everything from dedicated "classroom" space to private tutors to tech support.
At the Four Seasons Punta Mita. the "schoolcation" package was born from necessity.
"The idea came from the fact that we were reopening our resort and many of our guests were still working and/or studying from home," PR director at the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita Miguel Peregrina, told "Good Morning America." "We were still in confinement, and many of these services were required by [the guests]. So we capitalized all this, and presented the offer under this [schoolcation] concept."
At the resort, nannies have become study buddies that sit in on virtual classes. The former Dr. Sunglasses has become Dr. Screen, available to sanitize any device. Poolside cabanas have turned into work and schooling stations. The "after-school program" consists of outdoor activities around the resort.
Stateside, Great Wolf Lodge's Howl 'N Learn package includes a late checkout so kids can attend Wiley's Schoolhouse -- a special area of the resort designated specifically for kids to complete e-learning. Staff is on-hand to look after the kids and provide any support needed. Great Wolf "Recess" breaks during the session and includes physically distanced yoga, a craft project or character encounter.
At the Poconos Shawnee Inn's "monitored learning" includes a virtual classroom which "exceeds CDC & social distance guidelines," according to the resort. There's a room attendant to supervise the kids' learning. The resort promises a full recreation learning schedule that includes "nature hikes, arts & crafts, recess / physical education, and safe socialization." The program runs through Nov. 20, 2020.
At the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California, the "Edu-Cations" package includes, in addition to normal overnight accomodations, an additional day use guestroom to serve as a study space and online homework help from Princeton Review tutors. There's outdoor enrichment and physical activities on offer when kids are done with traditional learning for the day.
"With California's two largest school districts, Los Angeles and San Diego, announcing that classes will remain online-only, our team is excited to transform Monarch Beach Resort's 175 acres of space into an inspiring setting for school children and their families this fall," said Denise Chapman, marketing manager at the resort.
In Florida, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort has its own "schoolcation" offer. Supervised schoolwork sessions are held in small-group classroom settings, physically distanced with no more than six children per class. There are half-day and full day options, (until 3 p.m.) with lunch provided and afternoon enrichment classes for kids on flexible schedules. After-school "recess" takes place at the resort's five-acre water park.
In Georgia. the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee in Greensboro's Ritz Kids Study Buddy program gives kids dedicated tutors to help them follow their virtual class schedule while also implementing creative educational experiences like fishing in the nearby lake or crafting. The experiences can be customized pre-arrival to include traditional tutoring, break-out activities, picnic lunch, "PE" class in the backyard or along nature trails, and more.