California school closures force one family to move teen to Indiana for in-person learning


HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. – School closures during this pandemic have been challenging. While kids have started to head back to class that’s not the case everywhere and families are having to consider other options.

There’s a California family who decided to send their high-schooler here to Central Indiana for in person learning. And many think it was the right move.

“We’re doing a hybrid schedule right now,” said Sophomore Michael Vaccaro, who’s enjoying his first semester of school in the Hoosier state, “I enjoy going to school and I enjoy not being stuck online.”

His grades are going up at Guerin Catholic and he’s on the football team. In-person learning for Michael was crucial.

“Last year when we were online since the shutdown I struggled mainly, not being able to communicate with my teacher if I needed something,” he explained.

Those struggles worried his father, Ed Vaccaro. Along with the wildfires, making it unsafe back home in California.

“California was a great place to live, it was a beautiful place,” said Ed Vaccaro, “But we had to find the right place for Mike to go to school and the right environment in order for him to learn and not fall behind.”

The Vaccaro’s spent some time visiting family over the summer in Indiana. As they were visiting the idea was brought up that they tour some of the Catholic schools in the area to see if they would be a good fit for Michael, since many of them were re-opening or had hybrid plans for the fall semester.

“I almost felt like we were going to visit colleges,” said Ed Vaccaro.

That’s when it was decided, Michael would move to Indiana and live with family in Hamilton County to get that in-person learning experience, he needed.

Ed posted about the difficult but necessary decision on his social media platforms. His post said:

“When the government shuts down the schools for a second semester I needed to find an alternative for my son because online learning was becoming a struggle. So, I sent my son to Indiana for his sophomore year of high school to live with my sister. He is that student who needs to be in front of a teacher not behind a laptop. He had a chance to play football this weekend and kicked a 30-yard Field goal to win the game. He is #88. Prior to this game he was feeling “very alone” because he didn’t know anyone. He said after the game that all started changing. Lots of new friends wanting to know him. He misses California and wants to come home and will when Covid has passed. Hard to imagine Mike is not in a De La Salle Spartan green and silver uniform this year. I miss him dearly but as a parent you must think of what’s best for your child first. Covid, fires and smoke everywhere or fresh clean air… it reminds me of the movie “Pleasantville” in Indiana. No garbage on the side of the road, no graffiti, and no tent cities. I love the fact he is in a classroom every day and playing football/and soccer. Just an update what’s going on please pray for California! and my son Mike.”

Ed Vaccaro

“The post I put out on Facebook and I also put it out on LinkedIn went viral,” explained Ed Vaccaro, “I think I got more comments actually just saying, hey you did the right thing. People from all over the country giving us accolades for making that decision.”

Several other parents on the post saying they’re also considering it. For Ed, it’s not easy being away but his son’s education comes first.

“We could see some of our friend’s children start to fall behind with this online learning, but we thought there’s got to be a better way,” said Ed Vaccaro, “I think adaptability is really important, in life in general and I think that’s the life lesson Mike is learning.”

And as a dad even though he’s halfway across the country, it’s important for him to fly in to make it for Michael’s football games.

“I miss him really, really dearly,” said Vaccaro, “I miss him.”

Michael was able to transfer to Guerin since it’s a private Catholic school.

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