APACHE JUNCTION, AZ — On Monday, March 22, about a dozen more districts will welcome students back for in-person learning. Many of them have been learning remotely since last spring.
When we first met the Furnish family in July of 2020 all four boys were learning on their devices in one room. They all attend school in the Apache Junction Unified School District.
"Well, I can tell you it didn't last that long," said their mom, Jessica Furnish.
The younger two eventually settled into the kitchen or living room while the older ones found it tough to leave their beds.
"I feel like I'm more tired because I'm not really getting up and getting out of the house to go to be in school and learning," said Zayden Furnish, who is a senior in high school.
"I usually get all As and Bs, this year it's more all Cs and Ds," said Trevin Furnish, who is a junior.
Their dad, Todd Furnish, has been able to stay home.
"To be the principal, the teacher, the teacher aid, lunch lady, nurse, hall pass monitor," he said.
The family has come up with ways to stay active and engaged with daily trips to the park taking the place of recess for younger boys Bryson and Thorin.
Zayden and Trevin did have a roller coaster sports season, but say they are excited to return to campus on Monday.
"If you play sports, you always dream about your last football season, last basketball season, but they canceled winter sports and our football season got canceled short," said Zayden.
Their parents are cautiously optimistic the kids will finish the year strong.
"Honestly my first concern is that two hours longer, how are they going to be able to handle that longer day," said Todd Furnish, "and then, you know, you have the concern for the virus."
Still in a school year filled with ups, downs, and plenty of unknowns, the Furnish family says it has only brought them closer together.
"We're a tight-knit family anyways but being able to be together almost every day during this," said Jessica.
"I've gotten nine months with my four boys here, you know I get to see them all day, I get to watch them in their classes, interacting and stuff with others," said Todd.