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COVID-19 Continues To Boost Homeschooling Numbers

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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the Commonwealth of Virginia’s 1.25 million K-12 students, 59,116 of whom are being homeschooled according to the latest statistics released by the Virginia Department of Education.

Up from the pre-pandemic number of students being homeschooled in Virginia, 2020-2021 saw a record-setting increase of more than 21,700 students switching from public education to homeschooling.

Parents fear that their children may contract the coronavirus by being confined to a congested area in a school also express their concerns about the mask requirement for children attending Virginia’s schools. Therefore, fear and concerns about their children’s safety have caused the number of children who are being homeschooled to spike.

The Home Education Association of Virginia (HEAV) confirms the VDE data that attributes the spike in numbers to the coronavirus pandemic that shutdown the Commonwealth of Virginia’s schools in March of 2020.

The school districts’ ensuing reliance on all-virtual learning for students at home while the doors of the schools remained closed has also contributed to the increase of students enrolled in homeschooling that does not require the parents to teach their children specific subjects.

At the end of each school year, Virginia’s homeschooled students are required to achieve certain standardized test scores to qualify to continue homeschooling. The standardized tests are the same ones required for those enrolled in public schools to pass in order to be promoted.

While state law in Virginia does not dictate the subjects parents must teach, parents who homeschool their children have a wide variety of materials that have been developed by companies to choose from, and Virginia does not dictate to parents what materials they must use or the way they choose to educate their children.

Materials for homeschooled students are readily available for parents to choose to use, and four accredited homeschool programs are Abeka Academy, Bridgeway Academy, Forest Trail Academy and Laurel Academy.

Adventure Academy, an online program that parents who homeschool their children can subscribe to for supplemental learning materials, is designed to improve reading comprehension, vocabulary and mathematical skills. The online program also includes materials organized to help students learn about science, world history and geography.

Due to the recent surge of COVID cases, six Chesapeake schools have returned to all-virtual learning, and some schools in northern Virginia remained closed after the holiday break due to the rising number of COVID cases combined with two winter snowstorms.

Governor Ralph S. Northam who chose to close Virginia’s public schools in 2020 in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 appointed Dr. Rosa S. Atkins as Superintendent of Public Instruction (VDOE) effective Jan. 3.

Atkins holds the office of the secretary of the State Board of Education. As the spike in COVID-19 cases have continued from Dec. of 2021, Atkins is now tasked with keeping abreast of the situation in order to provide Governor Northam with valuable input concerning Virginia’s schools and how best to combat the virus.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Joe Biden allocated $2.1 billion in pandemic relief funds to Virginia in support of its public schools that have lost thousands of students in K-12 to parents who have chosen to homeschool their children during the pandemic.

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