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Coronavirus and the New Normal for One Northeast Ohio Family

Ben Rancman and his sons stand outside their University Heights home.
Ben Rancman and his sons stand outside their University Heights home.

Living under the coronavirus umbrella has changed the daily routine of millions of Americans, including the staff at WKSU.

Ben Rancman is a sales associate at the radio station and has been working from home for the past few weeks. This has meant spending more time with his wife and two sons, while also trying to stay out of each other’s way to get their work done. He put together an audio postcard that captures a day in the life of the "new normal."

Ben and his wife, Sara, often discuss their plans for the day, including who will be doing which chores and if they’ll be going anywhere. On this day, Ben says he will make dinner, help do the dishes, and will take his father some dinner later.

Those chores extend to the Rancman boys, Noah and Eli. Unfortunately for Noah, a seventh-grader, this extra time at home means his games of "Fortnite" are occasionally interrupted. Some days it's to take a break to study with his father.

Ben Rancman helping his son Noah study
Credit Ben Rancman
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Ben Rancman helping his son Noah study

Today, it’s to help his dad take out the trash. Only a few players are left in this round, so Noah tells his dad he needs just a little more time to try to win.

“I almost forgot it’s garbage day. It’s hard to tell Monday from Sunday,” Ben says as he and Noah complete another daily chore.

The new reality of digital learning

Sara is a first-grade teacher and one of the thousands of teachers across Ohio adjusting to remote education. She holds a live video chat with her class every day, joking with her students before moving through her daily lesson plan. In today's COVID-19 world, Sara now faces the challenge of trying to hold the attention of a group of first-graders through a computer screen instead of in a normal classroom.

Sara Rancman teaching her first-grade class through video conferencing.
Credit Ben Rancman
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Sara Rancman teaching her first-grade class through video conferencing.

Eli, an eighth-grader, also has to learn at home because of the coronavirus outbreak. This includes having to keep up with daily readings, and conducting one-on-one sessions with his teachers to ensure he is understanding the material he is learning.

Eli Rancman participating in a distance learning class with his laptop.
Credit Ben Rancman
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Eli Rancman participating in a distance learning class with his laptop.

Staying connected in the new normal

Ben wants to maintain as much a degree of family connectedness as possible in the days of social distancing. Today, that means taking his sons to see their grandfather, even if they can only talk through the window for the time being.

“Like in prison,” Ben’s father says as he describes how it feels talking to his family through a window. Ben and the Rancman boys are also here to bring his father a home-cooked meal, as today is a day he would usually be at the Rancman house to eat dinner. However, the current social distancing guidelines make that impossible, as Ben’s father is among the older population, which is one of the groups most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Eli and Noah Rancman visiting their grandfather.
Credit Ben Rancman
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Eli and Noah Rancman visiting their grandfather.

Ben's in-laws, Paul and Nina, also miss their family interactions. Today, they came to visit, but just stayed in their car to talk to the Rancman family. Paul jokes about how much of an event it is to go anywhere these days, laughing as he says Nina “fixed herself nice” for the occasion of driving just to visit family. The family wonders aloud how they’ll handle the upcoming holiday season, and whether or not they’ll have to spend it apart or be able to gather together.

Ben Rancman's in-laws Paul and Nina visiting at a social distance.
Credit BEN RANCMAN
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Ben Rancman's in-laws Paul and Nina visiting at a social distance.

Thoughts like Paul and Nina’s are on the minds of many people across Ohio, wondering when they will be able to be out interacting with loved ones again.

What's life like for you in the new normal? Let us know._

Copyright 2021 WKSU. To see more, visit WKSU.