SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – With many schools across the Bay Area starting the year with distance learning, some parents are trying to come up with alternatives. One of them is learning pods, but some pediatricians warn they could be more dangerous than schools.

Many health departments are saying social gatherings are driving coronavirus transmission rates up in our communities. Some pediatricians worry, without proper protocols, a learning pod which is a small group of students that would gather to learn together, will just be another form of a social gathering.

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Many parents have coronavirus fears but they also know distance learning cannot replace in person school.

“What they’re going to learn online is not going to be enough,” says mom Rahmet Kelil.

Jessica Smith’s daughter will be going into kindergarten.

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“Just because I worked in daycare before, I know how important social interaction is for 5-year-olds,” said Smith.

Dr. Ally LaBarbara, a pediatrician says younger students between the ages of 5 and 10 would be safest going back to school.

“For younger kids because their physiology is different and they don’t learn quite as well distance learning,” says Dr. LaBarbara.

To have success at school or in a learning pod, Dr. La Barbara says the group would have to be small and stable.

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“What I worry about is if people have 3-6 kids in their home, are they wearing masks? Are they socially distanced? Are they following the same requirements we would have for school. ? If not, then I would worry that learning pods can certainly become a driver for community transmission.”