Are you confused yet? When all public and private schools were closed by executive order in March, it was pretty easy to understand the situation.
But Governor Northam’s school closure order is about to expire and be replaced by “guidance” or “recommendations” for how to keep students safe from the coronavirus when they return to classrooms this fall.
If you’re confused about the coming “school phases” (which are different than the “phases” for everything else), you’re not alone! There are many unanswered questions.
Are public schools required to follow the governor’s guidance? Who will decide? Will parents have a voice in what restrictions are imposed at their students’ schools?
Will school be online, in-person, or a mix throughout the year? Do online public school programs have a good track record?
Classroom teachers (God bless them!) already have a challenging time dealing with their kids—how will it be when they are disinfecting on the hour, trying to get kids to keep masks on and not touch each other? How will they teach and enforce all the new restrictions?
Do I want my kids to play on the playground six feet apart? With no more cafeteria, will my kids get used to eating their packed lunches in the classroom? If I keep my child home with a sniffle, will I be charged with an unexcused absence if I don’t go to the office and get a doctor’s note?
Amid all these questions and potential changes, one thing does stand firm: if you comply with simple requirements, you have a right to homeschool your child this fall. In your own home, your kids don’t need to wear a mask or be afraid of punishment if they desire close human contact (like a hug). The risk of contagious illness is far lower.
You have the opportunity to make your home an island of normalcy in sea of crisis. Isn’t that what home is all about?
We here at HSLDA can help you comply with Virginia homeschool requirements. There are four separate ways to do it legally. We can give you terrific practical ideas for getting your homeschool program up and running.
Some parents wonder if they can homeschool and let other people teach their children some of the time. Some even ask: “Can someone else homeschool my child full time?”
That question needs to be answered in two parts because “homeschooling” is really two separate concepts that work together: (1) homeschooling as a way to comply with compulsory attendance law, and (2) homeschooling as way to educate kids.
As to the first, homeschooling as a way to comply with compulsory attendance law can only be done by the parent or other person who has overall daily responsibility for the child. Regardless of how instruction is delivered to the child, “the buck stops” with the parent or other adult who is responsible for the child. With respect to this concept, no, you can’t let someone else “homeschool” your child. It’s your job to make sure the child complies with compulsory attendance using one of the lawful options. (Good news—it’s not hard!)
As to the second, your options for using homeschooling as a way to educate kids are wide open! Virginia law does not tell you who can or can’t teach your child. Some parents personally deliver 100 percent of a child’s instruction. Some personally deliver none. I hired a young man once whose last two years of home instruction consisted of full-time attendance at a community college. Between the extremes of 100 percent and 0 percent, there is every imaginable variation. This freedom gives parents tremendous flexibility to craft a program they believe is best for their child.
We have been helping families start their homeschool journey for 37 years. We will give you the benefit of all that experience when you call us for help.