Emergency Homeschooling and Coronavirus (COVID-19) School Closures

For Immediate Release: Parents should be ready to take an active role in their children’s education in case of school closures

03/11/2020—As COVID-19 (coronavirus) spreads in the United States, some local authorities have temporarily closed schools to slow the rate of infection. The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is encouraging parents to make preparations in case their children’s schools are closed. “We will probably see more school closures in coming weeks,” says Dr. Rachel Coleman, executive director of CRHE. “Parents should be prepared to support their children’s learning at home.”

The CDC has recommended that parents make arrangements for alternative childcare in case of school closures in their area. Some school districts are responding to the potential for school closures by making preparations to transition to online schooling to cut down on lost learning time. “A switch to online learning will create special challenges for families without a caregiver at home or those without internet access,” Coleman says. “Online learning will also create challenges that affect all children. Parents need to be aware of these challenges.”

In recent years, education researchers have expressed a growing skepticism of online schools. A 2019 study in Pennsylvania found that students who transferred from brick and mortar schools to online charter schools showed weaker growth than matched peers who remained in school. A 2019 study conducted by the National Education Policy Center found such concerning results for online schools that they recommended that policymakers “slow or stop the growth in the number of virtual and blended schools … until the reasons for their relatively poor performance have been identified and addressed,” although they did find that online schools run by school districts performed better than those run by outside entities. 

“These studies suggest that online learning is not an effective replacement for in-person interaction between students and teachers,” Coleman says. “Parents should not assume that a computer will be sufficient to make up the education their child was receiving in school.” CRHE is encouraging parents who find themselves faced with school closures to take an active role in their child’s online schoolwork and to take proactive steps to foster their children’s learning. “When schools close, parents must play a key role in furthering their children’s education,” says Coleman. 

CRHE has posted a list of learning activities and ideas for parents on their website. 

The Coalition for Responsible Home Education empowers homeschooled children by educating the public and advocating for child-centered, evidence-based policy and practices for families and professionals.

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