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Texas homeschooling gets boost from COVID-19

By Roz Brown

Texas News Service

AUSTIN, Texas — As the nation grapples with returning kids to school during a pandemic, many Texas parents are switching to homeschooling or at least exploring the options.

The faith-based Texas Home School Coalition reports an uptick in calls and emails from new families asking how to qualify for homeschooling or obtain curriculum. Stephen Howsley, public policy analyst with the Coalition, said interest has been growing since the Texas Education Agency released reopening guidelines for the fall semester.

“I think in general we’ve just seen the numbers for home-schooling, like the number of students – especially in Texas – at least grow each year, pretty much. It’s pretty consistent,” Howsley said.

When Texas students return to the classroom in August, those 10 and older will be required to wear masks. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases still are surging in Harris County – home to Houston – the state’s largest city.

On Sunday, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declined to provide an agency plan for keeping children safe when they return to school.

About 3.5% of U.S. students, around 2 million young people, were homeschooled prior to the pandemic. Howsley said over the past 20 years, homeschooling in Texas has increased an average of 7% each year.

He said he believes many parents who made homeschooling work during the pandemic will want to continue.

“Really, parents just enjoy spending time, more time, at home, with their children,” he said. “Obviously, when you send them to school, public school or private school, you’re just going to go most of the day without seeing them. But I think parents in general are just really enjoying the extra time with their kids.”

Homeschool requirements in Texas are fairly flexible. There is no need to register with an agency. Instead students must unenroll from a traditional school and then study subjects that include reading, spelling, grammar, math and good citizenship.

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