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Homeschooling On the Rise in the US Because of COVID-19

A year of school closures and virtual learning coincides with a wave of new homeschooling households.


The number of homeschooling households in America has doubled in the last six months with no signs of stopping.

“The surge has been confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported in March that the rate of households homeschooling their children rose to 11% by September 2020, more than doubling from 5.4% just six months earlier,” reports AP News.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in late February 2020, the American education system struggled to accommodate new safety procedures.

“Eventually, 48 states, four U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity ordered or recommended school building closures for the rest of their academic year, affecting at least 50.8 million public school students,” reports Education Week.

Schools across the nation were left to navigate virtual learning, hybrid schedules, and fluctuating personal protection regulations through the subsequent school year.

A study from Yale University indicates that “children living in the poorest 20% of U.S. neighborhoods will experience the most negative and long-lasting effects of school closures.”

As a result of the educational disruption, many frustrated parents withdrew their children from school and began homeschooling. 

In particular, the number of black homeschooling households skyrocketed following COVID-19 lockdowns. In the spring of 2020, just 3.3% of black households in America homeschooled their children. That number jumped to 16.1% in the fall.

National Black Home Educators (NBHE), an organization founded in 2000 to support black homeschooling families, had 5,000 members before the pandemic. Now, there are more than 35,000 members, says Joyce Burges, co-founder and program director of NBHE.

Burges told AP that many of the new families experienced difficulties, including lack of internet access, that limit their children’s ability to benefit from virtual learning during the pandemic.

“It got so they didn’t trust anything but their own homes, and their children being with them,” she said. 

Homeschooling is generally seen as more flexible than traditional classroom settings. Parents have the ability to directly oversee and individualize the curriculum to best meet the needs of their children.

The New Hampshire Department of Education announced this summer that it will partner with Prenda, which promotes the formation of microschools. 

Per PRI, the partnership will “provide learning pods, in multi-age, small-group settings to help up to 500 students who struggled with setbacks during the pandemic. New Hampshire’s Commissioner of Education, Frank Edelblut, is convinced the microschool model will continue to thrive and help close student achievement gaps that persisted even before COVID-19.”

At the beginning of July 2021, the Center for Disease Control announced a new safety guideline that “emphasized” returning to full-time in-person instruction, according to CNN. “The CDC suggests schools take steps to promote Covid-19 vaccination, including offering vaccines on site, providing paid sick leave for employees to get vaccinated, and excusing absences for students to get vaccinated. Covid-19 vaccines are currently available for people ages 12 and older in the US. While the vaccinated can go without a mask, the agency recommends unvaccinated people over the age of 2 wear masks when indoors.”

Two weeks later, “the American Academy of Pediatrics released updated guidance for schools Monday, recommending that all students over 2 years old, along with staff, wear masks, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against COVID-19,” per NPR.

However, since mask mandates aren’t permitted in all states, it remains to be seen where and how the guidelines will be enforced. 

A nationwide study from Hanover Research found that parents who switched to homeschooling during the pandemic intend to continue during the 2021-2022 school year. The survey found that 71% of parents “reported a positive perception of homeschooling” and 73% positively regarded online schooling. Overall, the survey found that “the general population is more likely to continue using online resources upon their child’s return to in-person classroom instruction.”

Despite common misperceptions about homeschooling, the survey also found that most homeschooled children generally belong to urban northern families with at least one post-secondary degree. Additionally, responsibility is more often shared between two working parents rather than one stay-at-home parent.

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