Coronavirus - COVID-19
During the last few weeks we have seen higher than usual enrolments from many families looking to start homeschooling their children. In many cases, we know that this is directly connected to the current novel coronavirus/COVID-19 epidemic spreading around the world. Understandably, parents are taking very seriously new information about this highly contagious virus which can pose its greatest threat to children and the elderly. We understand that parents have every reason to be concerned when this highly infectious virus can be spread even by people showing no symptoms.
New reports are emerging on a daily basis about "community-base transmitted" cases throughout the United States and Canada, increasing the concern of many families who are wondering if their local communities will be hit next. The CDC has gone as far as to publicly state that it's not a matter of "if" but "when" the coronavirus will become community spread. Community-based cases are of special concern because this means that new infections are being spread in communities throughout the U.S. and Canada by people who have not travelled abroad or who have not been in contact with someone who has travelled abroad, but by contracting it directly from someone locally.
It is at this point in time that many families, who either may not have thought about homeschooling in the past or who were only partially considering the idea, are now considering homeschooling as a real and serious option to minimize exposure to the coronavirus and its health risks. As the current situation is really unprecedented, it is natural for many families to wonder if their present concern about the coronavirus and consideration about homeschooling their children, is a rational and sound option. We feel that it is pertinent to analyze these concerns objectively within both a historical and the present context.
Currently, millions of citizens in China, Japan, Italy, Spain and other nations have been put under mass quarantine in order to minimize exposure to the coronavirus. In some cities, entire school districts and government offices have been closed temporarily in order to try to contain the spread of the virus. Although the mortality rate of the virus is not very high, it is understandable that those who are able to homeschool may want to take steps to minimize their children's exposure to the coronavirus as much as possible, as well as to save themselves all of the financial and psychological distress associated with visits to the emergency room and even prolonged hospitalization stays.
Many articles have been written and studies conducted on the post impact of hurricanes Katrina and Harvey on the student population of the states affected by these natural catastrophes. In some cases, tens of thousands of students in Texas and Louisiana were forced to miss an entire school year because their schools had been severely flooded or damaged by the hurricanes. Several articles by the Huffington Post, Pacific Standard Magazine, and the American Psychological Association narrate in alarming detail how the long-term effects on these displaced students will be felt for "generations to come". Because officials still don't know much about this new coronavirus, it is hard to predict what the short and long terms effects would be on children if entire school districts were to shut down for weeks or even months.
We have always felt that it is up to each family to decide whether homeschooling is the right choice for their children; it is nonetheless a constitutional right each family has. Perhaps this is even truer now during these unusual times of concern. This is certainly no time to panic, but certainly the appropriate time to consider all sound legal options and measures which can be reasonably taken to minimize risk, of which homeschooling is certainly one of them.