H-PT parents detail life with school out

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Tiffany Maas-Berkey and Anne Kotula load meals into Houghton native Ray Sam’s car during curbside pickup for meals for Houghton-Portage township School students Wednesday.

HOUGHTON — In the second week of what will be at least a month-long shutdown of schools, Houghton Elementary School parents are keeping their children occupied, but hoping for an end. 

Just over 200 meals were being distributed to students Wednesday, in the second installment of weekly curbside pickups, said elementary school paraprofessional Tiffany Maas-Berkey, who was bringing meals out to parents’ cars with Anne Kotula. 

“I think it’s great,” Kotula said. “People need it for sure.”

Kids have been passing the time with a “lot of video games,” said Ray Sam of Houghton.

His work at Great Lakes Mineral gave him two weeks off. But being cooped up hasn’t been that bad yet, he said. 

“I’m an introvert to begin with,” he said. 

It had been a hectic week, said Lisa Ongie of Dollar Bay. Her car had broken down, so she took her boyfriend’s car to the school. Tuesday, they were inside playing board games, and took the dog on three walks. 

“Before that, we were trying to go out to Calumet Waterworks or Houghton Canal,” she said. “Get some fresh air, anyway.”

She’s hoping schools will be able to reopen soon. With no internet or computer at home, she hasn’t been able to use the online educational services suggested by the district. 

Pamela Oates of Stanton Township said her family has largely been staying at home, and not keeping days too scheduled. 

“We have been going for some hikes here and there,” she said. 

So far, it’s been a mix of liking having the children home and not feeling like she has the resources to educate them at home, she said — “keep them kind of structured, so when they do go back to school, they’re still used to the schedule and academics.”

“For the most part, it’s just stay calm, get the basics and go from there,” she said.


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