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Med school students band together to offer childcare, tutoring to frontline workers

Dr. Sandra McKay says the tutoring has helped her focus on what her 7-year-old son needs most - a parent.

For 15 minutes, five days a week, Owen McKay has virtual tutoring.

The 7-year-old practices words with the letters “s” and “th," because of an articulation disorder.

However, his tutor isn’t a speech therapist.

Caroline Andrews is a McGovern Medical School student who has been volunteering her time, because Owen’s mom is a doctor working on the front lines.

“I obviously don’t have the training to be able to tangibly serve on the front lines in any means, so I think it just felt like a way I could do something,” said Andrews, who just finished her first year of medical school.

More than 60 student volunteers have been paired with front line physicians in Houston through the McGovern Volunteer Network.

Organizer Bili Yin says they’ve been babysitters, tutors, even pet sitters.

“It didn’t feel right that we suddenly were asked to stay home and had all this free time when all the physicians we were working with were suddenly busier than they’d ever been,” said Yin.

Dr. Sandra McKay was juggling life as a pediatrician with UT Physicians/UTHealth, a professor, plus a bunch of new titles thanks to the pandemic.

“When you’re parent and teacher, it’s really hard to also be speech therapist,” said McKay.

Instead of falling behind, her little boy is making progress thanks to Caroline.

That’s one less thing for this front line worker to worry about.

“Knowing that we can now focus on being the parent, which is what he needs. He needs his parents too. It was nice to be able to have that,” said McKay.

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