Back to… Home?: 40 county students on a homeschooling wait list

Originally published in The Laurinburg Exchange – July 31, 2020

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, some parents across the state and county who have shown interest in homeschooling their children.

According to Spencer Mason, executive office manager for North Carolinians for Home Education, the top two reasons parents typically home school their children are due to religious beliefs or believing that they can do a better job than the school system. But something that is slightly further down the list is concern about the safety of the students.

Mason said recently, likely due to COVID-19, there have been a lot of parents across the state who have been calling the office with questions about homeschooling their children.

“We’ve been getting a lot of people who have been inquiring about what’s involved in homeschooling,” Mason said. “Because of the coronavirus rules and regulations a lot of schools are going online and a lot of folks who were only slightly interested are now becoming very interested in homeschooling their children.”

He added that many parents also have called wanting to do a “micro-school,” which is different than homeschooling as it brings in a teacher to teach children from several families.

“One thing we really want is to make sure people are informed and get an idea of what homeschooling is about,” Mason said. “We put up a webinar last week on how to begin homeschooling and we will be having another next week on homeschooling for high school.”

The webinars can be found on the NCHE’s website at www.nche.com.

Another option to teach children at home is through an online public charter school, such as North Carolina Virtual Academy which has also seen an increase in interest in the online options the school provides over the past few months.

“North Carolina Virtual Academy is seeing an increase in interest in online learning solutions,” said Lauren Acome, an online school expert and the Head of School at North Carolina Virtual Academy. “We won’t know for sure how enrollment will be impacted until after the start of the school year, but we did see an increase in interest this spring that continued through the summer. We currently have more than 6,000 new student enrollment applications for the 2020-2021 school year.”

The program is considered “public school at home” as there are an interactive curriculum, live classes and state-credentialed teachers. The school also follows the NCDPI accountability system and students participate in state-mandated assessments.

From Scotland County, Acome says that there are currently 21 students enrolled and 40 who are on the waitlist.

”Our partner, K12, has more than 20 years of experience delivering online education to millions of students,” Acome said. “This experience helps us meet students where they are and helps us offer personalized learning to students of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. Keys to our success have been robust online training and support for teachers and regular communication with parents, students, and staff. When used together, this formula ensures that online school can and will work.“

In Scotland County, students will be returning to school virtually for the first nine weeks and this semester will have more realistic teaching than last semesters.

“Since we’ve decided to have the first 9-weeks online we at the district level haven’t heard of many parents wanting to leave the district for homeschooling,” said Scotland County Schools PIO Meredith Bounds. “I think our remote learning plan is a good one and will offer students more realistic experiences with the Swivl devices we will be implementing and it will be a lot different when students go back to school on Aug. 17.”

To learn more about North Carolina Virtual Academy, visit https://ncva.k12.com/

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