Parents consider home schooling as uncertainty surrounding school reopenings continue

The start of school is just weeks away. With no finalized plans, some parents are beginning to look at other options for their kids.
The start of school is just weeks away. With no finalized plans, some parents are beginning to look at other options for their kids.
Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 4:30 PM EDT
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HERMON, Maine (WABI) - With many school plans still up in the air, some parents are beginning to think of alternatives to in-school instruction.

Homeschooling is at the top of the list.

”The uncertainty is the hard part and we just want to know what is happening so that we can make plans and arrangements if there isn’t a full-time school,” says Heather Donald, a mother of two in the Hermon School District.

She and her husband both work full-time and are trying to make plans if their kids do or don’t return to school in the fall.

“We’re not teachers and if you don’t have that background it can be challenging,” she says.

Donald says they are fortunate in that they could potentially pay someone with training to home school their kids and maybe others as well.

”I think it would be great to have a neighborhood group or even a classroom, I’ve heard them called PODS, where they are able to at least interact and learn with other kids versus just homeschooling one-on-one with a parent or someone coming into the house,” she says.

These PODS are becoming a more popular option among parents in larger cities and hot zones.

Donald says she realizes they are fortunate enough to consider this as an option when many other parents couldn’t.

For parents thinking of homeschooling themselves, it’s not an easy task.

Officials with the Maine Department of Education say the forms can be filled out and submitted in the few weeks that’s left before the start of the school year, but parent readiness is another question.

“You have to find your own curriculum materials, you have to develop lesson plans everyday. It is a lot,” says Pamela Ford-Taylor the Enrollment Consultant for the Maine Department of Education.

The DOE says families have to be forward thinking and make sure their children are hitting education benchmarks or else they could fall behind.

Ford-Taylor says, ”If you’re doing it on the fly and just thinking that it is temporary, that’s not always the most effective way to go about it.”

The Department is also stressing that a remote or hybrid learning atmosphere this school year would look different than the "emergency education" that took place at the start of the pandemic.

“Our school leaders, our teachers, have been spending every moment of their summer developing more comprehensive curriculum. This is not summer vacation. They are doubling down on their efforts to ensure that they have thoughtful plans to address any students needs in whatever model we happen to be in as is determined by this quite frankly volatile pandemic,” says Kelli Deveaux, Director of Communications for the Maine Department of Education.

Ford-Taylor says, “Our highest goal is always to provide the best rigor for every population but safety comes first.”

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