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Eastern Iowa schools districts seeing uptick in families interested, enrolling in home school assistance programs

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 6:53 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Two Eastern Iowa school districts say they are seeing more enrollment in their home school assistance programs.

District officials say the choice to home school can go back to many parents concerned about sending students into the classroom and not feeling like any of the return-to-school options is a good fit.

“These are uncharted territories,” Terri Devore, a local mom who is choosing the homeschooling route this year, said.

Devore says choosing whether or not to send her daughter to kindergarten inside of a school or to home school her was a difficult decision.

“There’s so many options and I know a lot of teachers and parents feel none of the options are good,” Devore said. “As far as I’m personally concerned, I think especially with the younger kids sending them with the face masks, and not being able to share supplies, we’re putting the teachers at risk, especially the elderly teachers, and not to mention as we get closer to flu season, what do we do then. So I think with everything involved, with all the unknowns, nobody really knows what the right answer is. I think for me and my child I think [homeschooling is] best.”

Devore says that she works from home and that gives her flexibility. She’s still working with the Marion Independent School District to figure out what a curriculum would look like.

“You have to keep in mind when you are doing the homeschooling without a formal instruction that it becomes the district’s decision on whether or not to move them forward into the next grade,” Devore said. “So I think in terms of structure, finding if the district will offer homeschooling curriculum, that’s something that I will go with.”

The home school program in Marion has seen a significant trend in more families asking about homeschooling. The Program Director says more than 90% of their program population is open enrolled.

Cedar Rapids is also seeing this.

“Since the first school board meeting back in the beginning of July, I have talked to approximately 90 families, which is a huge increase from our normal summer intake, and a lot of those families they have already done that switch they’ve enrolled,” Jeannie Johnson, lead teacher for the district’s homeschooling program, said.

Johnson said many families aren’t satisfied with the return-to-learn options or have health-related concerns, but she said whatever route parents choose, there are some elements to consider.

“One of the biggest things I would say for families to consider is what is going to best for their student as a learner not just academically but socially as well,” Johnson said. “Kids really like to be around other kids, so if parents aren’t concerned so much with a health factor, I would encourage them to at least do the virtual model or send them face to face. If there is that concern, parents really need to know that they are the ones committed to teaching their student at home because it’s a lot of work.”

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