Wednesday, July 15, 2020

An Uncertain Education: Why Many Parents Are Opting to Continue Homeschooling Come Fall

COVID-19 has disrupted virtually every aspect of our daily lives. But undoubtedly, one of the biggest upsets for parents has taken place in the realm of childcare and education. Widespread closures from March to June threw many families for a loop, forcing them to supervise online learning or take on homeschooling themselves. And with federal leaders, state officials, and educators each offering different takes on back-to-school safety, it's no wonder that many parents have major concerns.

While only 25% of all U.S. schools are privately run, there's no guarantee that educational environments of any kind will be safe for students' return. And since 5.4 million children attend private schools and another 50.8 million attend public schools nationwide, the potential for viral exposure and transmission is potentially colossal. Unsurprisingly, roughly 70% of parents say they're concerned about sending their kids back to school in the fall. A separate survey indicated that almost 90% of parents were worried about their child's COVID-19 safety at school. Moreover, as many as 61% of parents said they'd be likely or very likely to consider changing fools in the fall if their current school wasn't meeting their standards for safety. As a result, some are willing to do something they never considered -- homeschooling their children -- in an effort to keep them safe from harm.

Although public and private schools provide a number of essential services for families (including the 4.9 billion school lunches that are served top kids each year), that hasn't stopped many Americans from finding out more about homeschooling. According to the Minnesota Homeschoolers Alliance, more parents are showing interest in the idea of taking on their kids' educations. In Virginia, the state's Home Educations Association reported that during the past three months, 3,000 new members have been added to the organization's Facebook page and 2,000 new requests have been sent to join their website.

Some experts are skeptical that most parents will be able and willing to keep homeschool going for a prolonged period of time. Certainly, it's a lot harder than it seems -- especially if a parent is gainfully employed. The percentage of home-schooled children has remained relatively steady for the past decade, with 3.3% of kids being educated at home in 2016. However, considering how widely standards might vary from state to state (and even district to district), it's hardly shocking that a substantial number of parents are at least attempting to make homeschooling work for their families. So much is left unknown about what school will look like if and when it does reopen, which makes many families uneasy about what the future might hold. So while it may be anything but easy, it may also be one of the best ways to keep their loved ones safe during the ongoing pandemic.


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