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Worried about Covid-19, small but growing number of students getting homeschooled in Broward County

Originally Published By: – August 30th, 2020

CORAL SPRINGS, FL- When Broward County Public Schools reopened virtually on Sept. 19, a small but growing number of students didn’t log in to start their school year at their regular schools.

Due to the pandemic, some parents in Broward County and across the nation have decided to take educational matters into their own hands and began homeschooling their children out of concern their schools aren’t offering solid virtual learning programs.

Broward County schools had 2 percent fewer students this year, compared to the same period as last year, schools superintendent Robert Runcie said last week. In all, 263,000 students were registered on Aug. 24.

There were about 2.5 million homeschool students last year in grades K-12 in the U.S., making up about 3 percent to 4 percent of school-age children, according to data from the National Home Educators Research Institute reported by the Associated Press.

Brian Ray, the group’s president, told the Associated Press he’s anticipating that their numbers will increase by at least 10 percent as more parents worry about the quality of learning caused by the disruption of Covid-19.

One of those parents is Lauren Keogan of Parkland who has two school-aged children.

“The amount of time the children were expected to be on (the computer) live with a teacher was not something I thought was going to work or benefit them or their education,” Keogan said.

“I didn’t feel they’d truly learn what they needed to in order to be prepared for next year. Additionally, I wanted some stability for them after the last school year. I felt the only way to make sure they had that was to homeschool for the full year,” she added.

Though Keogan opted to homeschool this year, it doesn’t mean she expects to be homeschooling year after year. In fact, she plans to return to Broward County Public Schools next year, depending on what happens with the pandemic.

To educate her children now, Keogan chose a combination of learning programs, including Time4Learning, BrainPop, Spelling City, Ed Galaxy, Night Zookeeper, Raz Kids, and Duolingo for Spanish.

Both of her children begin school at 9 a.m. and complete their schoolwork by 2 p.m., she said.

From a social perspective, Keogan said her second-grader would prefer to homeschool permanently and simply have play dates with friends. But her fifth-grader would rather be in-person in school.

“Our fifth-grader misses her friends and teacher very much,” Keogan said. “She doesn’t feel like virtual would work for her, but she’s eager for things to return to normal, so she can go back to school with her friends and teachers.”

The abrupt switch to distance learning in the spring helped Keogan prepare to be a teacher for her children as well as be their mother.

“It is hard when children act only the way they do with their parents because they feel it’s safe to, but you have to remind them that at that moment you are also their teacher, so I have different responsibilities (in that moment),” she said.

The most difficult part of homeschooling is planning, Keogan said.

“I want to make sure they are getting a great education and not be behind when they do return,” she said.

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