GREENSBORO, N.C. — With a decision on schools still up in the air, many North Carolina families are in limbo over the next academic year.
The uncertainty has pushed many parents to take their children's education into their own hands as state and school district leaders continue to grapple with plans for the next school year.
Many have begun to officially apply for Home school while others are still researching information to begin the process.
The website for the NC Division of Non-Public Education has returned to normal after it crashed last week due to a high volume of traffic. Staff at the agency have also fielded hundreds of calls about the processes and requirements to start up a home school.
Starting a home school is a different process from learning at home with the aid of virtual academies offered by school districts and the state. The interest in home school has grown because of concerns about the safety of children returning to public schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"If there is so much unknown, I would rather have my kids in a known situation and that would probably be homeschooling them for this upcoming year," said Vanessa Wedrychowicz of Kernersville.
Wedrychowicz is a mom of three who is a home school educator and manages a small business from home.
The window to file a Notice of Intent (NOI) to start a home school opened up on July 1. Wedrychowicz said many families are taking the plunge.
"I've been getting a ton of people reaching out about homeschooling for many different reasons. We've been doing a series of zoom calls just answer questions and guide people," said Wedrychowicz. She is part of a local co-op of home schools and helps with program coordination.
According to the state's 2019-20 Home School Statistical Summary, more than 149,000 students were educated in nearly 95,000 registered home schools in North Carolina.
In Guilford County, there were 3,783 home schools with about 5,827 children. Forsyth County had nearly 2,692 home schools with 4,261 pupils while Alamance County had 1,350 home schools and 2,170 children enrolled.
The numbers for the 2020-2021 academic year are expected to be higher amid concerns about the coronavirus.
"You can even school on Saturdays and Sundays you do not have to follow the orders that are set up from public school," advised Wedrychowicz who has homeschooled her eldest child, a 7th grader, since kindergarten.
Wedrychowicz said being able to be flexible with teaching materials, location, and scheduling learning is one of the helpful perks.
As homeschooling becomes an alternative for many, there are also concerns about those children in homes with working parents and a lack of connectivity and child-care or flexibility.
"I just want them to know that there is no right way or wrong way to do it. Your child naturally learns and they're going to soak up and absorb even if you spend a year at the library," she added.
According to the NCDNPE, Notice Of Intent (NOI) submissions are accepted from July to April of each school year. Online submissions may be made from Monday to Friday between 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. and there is no deadline for NOI submissions.
Click HERE for guidelines and information on how to set up a home school for your children.
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