Working mother

Melissa Canto Brenner spends her time bouncing between zoom calls, dirty dishes, staff meetings and unmade lunches. 

The mother of two is one of many UF faculty members who have had to reinvent their daily routine during COVID-19. Under strict stay-at-home orders, they’ve adapted to meet the demands of work and parenthood under one roof. 

After Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in March that four UF students tested positive for COVID-19, the university transitioned to remote learning and online school. Alachua County Public Schools followed suit. 

Now, 2-year-old Holly and 6-year-old Jack do their schoolwork from home. Brenner, who taught four courses at Santa Fe and three at UF during the Spring, said she is trying to give her students a holistic learning experience from home without neglecting her family. 

“It’s like ping pong,” Brenner said. “I’m just back-and-forth.”

When her students have trouble transitioning to online learning, Benner listens and adjusts deadlines. When her children get into arguments, she meditates. 

“It’s kind of good for my children to not have my complete undivided attention,” Brenner said. “I’m actually quite proud of the independence that they’ve gained.

Anne Mathews, a UF Food Science and Human Nutrition associate professor, said she has been fortunate that her kids are older. Fifteen-year-old Ben and 12-year old Addison don’t need help with homework.

Instead, Mathews said she takes two-hour breaks in the afternoon to spend time and eat lunch with them. She spends more time hiking, exercising and picking blueberries with her family than she did previously. 

“It’s been a blessing to spend more time with them,” she said. 

UF Associate Housing Director Mary Jordan has become more involved in her children’s education during quarantine, she said. She spends her mornings working and her afternoons with 5-year-old Aria and 7-year-old Micah. 

With Jordan’s help, Aria has learned to read during quarantine. 

“You know your kids’ personalities, but you don’t necessarily know their learning styles and what they’re on fire for, in terms of their different worlds,” Jordan said. “It’s been fun to see her engaging with her class and assignments that come home.”

For Mother’s Day, Jordan said that although it may differ from previous years, they’ll try to follow their normal Mother’s Day traditions. 

“The typical-Jordan family formula for a good Mother’s Day will exist,” Jordan said. “ A couple gifts, church because it’s always a Sunday and then a little bit of quiet time.”

Contact Diane at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @dianehern19.

Staff Writer

Diane is a history and journalism major at the University of Florida and a University News Assistant at The Alligator. She enjoys reading, watching documentaries and walking her dog Canela. After graduation, she hopes to continue writing.