AUSTIN — Many Texas parents who are concerned about sending children back to school in August are switching to homeschooling.
Following the release of the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) school reopening guidelines on July 7, Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) saw an immediate increase in calls and emails from new families, with parents asking how they can start homeschooling.
On July 7, the TEA announced that public schools would be reopening for the fall semester beginning in August. Concern from parents over the health risks and logistical problems involved with returning to public schools during the pandemic may lead to historically high numbers of families choosing to homeschool.
Over the last 20 years in Texas, homeschooling has increased an average of seven percent each year. In 2018, nearly 25,000 students withdrew from public school to homeschool in Texas.
Before the pandemic, the leading reason for homeschooling cited by parents was concern about safety and the environment at public schools. This concern may only increase because of new risks created from COVID-19.
Under the TEA’s new guidelines, students over age 10 will be required to wear masks at school. Parents could be required to choose between either online or in-person instruction. They would not be allowed to switch their student from one to the other for a six-week grading period.
The potential for their children’s school to be shut down partially during the school year if coronavirus case numbers rise is also a concern for parents. A poll from Real Clear Opinion Research in May showed that 40 percent of parents indicate they may switch to virtual school or homeschooling.
Schools in the Houston area have reported that as many as 50 percent of their parents may not be sending their children back to the school campus.
THSC has developed an online tool to assist families who choose to withdraw from the public school system, as well as a first steps to homeschooling packet that families can use to get started.
With so many homeschool resources currently available, families have options for structure and consistency in their children’s education despite the current upheaval in the public education system.