TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — While there have been efforts to keep kids in the classroom this school year, there have been more parents choosing to teach their kids at home, especially during the pandemic.
According to a new report from the Bellwether Education Partners, more than two and a half million children are now being homeschooled. The study also includes new Census data that shows homeschooling is becoming more common across races and ethnicities.
Joe Hawkinson, Chairman of Cornerstone Family Schools, a homeschooling organization in Topeka, said he saw about a 10% increase in parents opting to have their kids learn at home.
“It’s a variety of reasons, but specifically related to the current situation in school districts and just education in general. There’s a lot of unrest or unknowns,” he said.
Hawkinson told the Kansas Capitol Bureau on Wednesday that kids homeschooled during the pandemic saw minimal disruptions to learning during the pandemic, while other schools had to shut down due to outbreaks in coronavirus cases.
The Wellington School District announced that it had to temporarily close its schools until this week, Sept. 7. According to a letter from the Superintendent, at least 40 positive cases were identified within just the first eight days of school.
After a year of remote learning caused chaos for some teachers and students struggling to adjust, lawmakers have made efforts to limit remote learning hours.
The restrictions were passed as part of the massive school finance bill earlier this year. Under the law, there is a 40-hour limit on how long students can be in a remote setting. If schools were to go over those hours under certain conditions, then they could face the consequences.
“The risk is that they would lose funding, and the way we think the law would work, the real financial impact would probably be next year,” Mark Tallman, a spokesperson with the Kansas Association of School Boards, explained.
However, according to Hawkinson, the shift to at-home learning has been steadily increasing, even before the pandemic, and could continue after. He said more parents are deciding to teach kids at home for the flexible curriculum, which allows students to choose from a variety of classes and participate in extracurriculars, providing a unique approach to learning.
“In trying to build a well-rounded education, the curriculum, and other resources, especially online, make it much more available to learn at home.”