As the new school year approaches, some areas of the country are seeing a surge in coronavirus cases. Many states are reimposing mask mandates and other restrictions, especially as schools anticipate reopening for in-person classes.

This new stage of the pandemic raises important questions for homeschool families as well.

If you are running a support group, what steps should you take to make sure that your students and parents are kept safe and that your group is in compliance with the law? Since we all want to do what is best for the homeschool families we serve, here are some suggestions.

COVID concerns: Questions to ask

First, in looking at various states’ laws and orders about COVID-19, there are at least four categories that might apply to homeschool groups, depending on the exact wording of the laws: school, religious organization, business (perhaps a service business), or social/mass gathering.

I always recommend that you speak with an attorney in your state to determine which legal definition applies to your group and how to comply with the COVID-19 restrictions that your state has put in place.

But there are some questions that you as a group can think about as you seek legal advice before you host in-person gatherings, whether classes or an event like a start-of-school party:

1. What does your state say?

  1. Has your governor or state department of health issued orders that apply to your group? Has your legislature enacted emergency laws for the COVID-19 crisis? Make sure you get the most recent information, which is usually available on your state’s website.
  2. Look carefully at the wording of these orders and laws to figure out how your group is classified. Are you a school? Mass gathering? Private club? Religious organization?
  3. Has your state adopted all or part of the guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control? Remember that the CDC guidelines are not law by themselves.

2. What does your local county or municipal government say? In some states, counties are on different schedules for reopening businesses and schools.

3. What does the owner of your venue say?

4. What is covered by insurance? Be aware: this may have changed since last year! Many companies are no longer covering COVID claims. You should check with your agent to determine answers to at least these questions:

  1. If someone gets COVID at co-op, does insurance pay for it?
  2. If someone gets COVID at co-op and sues the group, does insurance pay for it?
  3. If someone gets COVID at co-op and sues the leader individually, does insurance pay for it?

5. What activities are you going to do?

  1. If you do in-person classes usually, are you going to continue those, or will you move to online instruction?
  2. If you do field trips or athletics, make sure you take a careful look at sanitization requirements that your state has.

6. What restrictions will you have?

  1. If you rent from a church or community center, it may have different requirements for meeting now. Talk to the owner or manager of the facility you use and figure out how these will apply to you.
  2. Who is going to enforce these restrictions?
  3. If you operate as a business, make sure you comply with any state laws that treat businesses differently from private clubs or nonprofit religious organizations.

7. What health and safety precautions will you take?

  1. Will you need to pay for a cleaner?
  2. Have these precautions been added to your group’s handbook or code of conduct?

8. Have you had your group’s releases of liability and waivers updated by an attorney familiar with your state’s law?

If you would like to call and talk these over with a sympathetic ear, I can be reached at (540) 338-5600 or via email at