Breaking News
More () »

Staying home for school: More Missouri families opt for homeschooling this fall

Some worry about the virus, others are concerned about how policies could impact students' school day

ST. LOUIS — “I would love for her to go to kindergarten, but, with everything else going on I can’t risk it,” Amanda Rudie said of Avi, her 5-year-old daughter dancing in the background of Amanda’s Zoom screen Monday afternoon.

“I was looking forward to more social time, for her to engage with other children, you know, enjoy being a 5-year-old,” she said.” I wish I didn’t have to home school.”

But it’s a decision she said was largely out of her hands due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our 19-month-old, she gets respiratory illnesses pretty quick, and if she gets a cold it goes down to her lungs pretty quickly,” she said. “So that plus we don’t know how severe the coronavirus really is for kids, even though they say it’s not, I can’t risk her health, I can’t risk our health.”

It’s one reason more families are turning to homeschooling for the 2020 fall semester. Kim Quon has seen it herself. 

As the regional director for Families for Home Education, Quon helps families navigate resources and requirements of at-home education. On average, she said she was used to talking to a total of about 50 people around Missouri each month at homeschooling info sessions. Since April, she said more than 640 people have tuned in to Zoom calls to learn more about homeschooling, and more than 300 are registered for upcoming sessions.

“There are some obviously scared of the pandemic itself, of the virus,” she explained, “probably the majority are just concerned about the rules within the schools.”

Rules like those outlined by local health officials and shown in schools’ reopening plans, many of which were released Monday.

RELATED: These St. Louis area schools have released their reopening plans

“I don't even hear people complaining about the schools. I think they truly do, for the most part, understand this difficult situation that everybody's under, but they are worried. Like, how can I have my little ADHD child, you know, sitting at their desk with no recess no lunch break, no nothing,” she said. "If they can't interact with anybody, how do they possibly function for the day? So I think a lot of them really are truly concerned about how this is going to look.”

Quon said even home-schooled children have had to go without the social interactions through co-ops and field trips groups parents around the area organize for their students — and a pivot to homeschooling is not a solution for everyone. Where it may be most helpful as opposed even to online schooling offered by a district, Quon said, is the flexibility. Many online programs are designed to accommodate diverse learning situations or home lives. Plus, the school day tends to be much shorter.

“Your schedule is your schedule and you can set it up as to whatever it works for your family,” she said.

Many parents have told her they are planning on homeschooling until kids can safely return to schools that are “back to normal,” Quon said that is typically not a problem for most K-8 students — but it’s still worth a conversation with the school if the plan is to eventually return.

Official homeschooling is also different from the online crisis learning school districts had to adopt at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, and Quon stresses that parents cannot simply continue to keep teaching their kids without informing the district and meeting a set of standards. For more information on how to get started and information sessions, you can contact Quon via email or visit the SHARE (St. Louis Homeschooling, Activities, Resources and Encouragement) website.


RELATED: As schools prepare to reopen medical experts weigh in

RELATED: ‘They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it’ | Gov. Parson talks about kids and coronavirus ahead of schools reopening

RELATED: St. Louis County school districts release reopening plans

Before You Leave, Check This Out