AUSTIN (KXAN) – It was March 15 and Jaclyn Mann was facing a new reality.
“My work was gone… because of COVID-19,” said Mann, a yoga and fitness instructor. “Over night, I became a stay-at-home mom and our transition was less than graceful. It was really hard for us and it has been.”
Mann has a 4-year-old son and is nine months pregnant. She said her family was looking for a safe option during the pandemic.
“I know how many families out in Austin are feeling stuck and like they have no options for themselves or their children, because they don’t feel safe,” explained Mann.
The mom and former middle school teacher started School at Home – Austin. It’s a match-making service for families and educators.
“I am working to match family groups with one another and then match them with an educator for a small group environment for their kids,” said Mann who recommends three to five kids per group. “People are volunteering to host either part or full-time in their home for their children. Other children from that small group would come for their host days and then the educator would meet them there.”
Mann said that families can request a federal background check for their educators and even families who are hosting. She explained that most of the educators she’s working with are retired teachers.
The Texas Homeschool Coalition, which works to advance homeschooling and protect parental rights in Texas, is expecting an increase in families looking for other options this fall.
The organization said these types of schools are considered private and not regulated by the state.
“There is a lot of freedom for families in Texas to school the hours they want, use the curriculum they want to choose,” explained Tim Lambert, President of Texas Homeschool Coalition. “So, families are choosing curriculum or resources that best fit their families.”
Lambert encourages parents to do their homework and research a company before signing up for any services.
“Check and see if they’ve had any negative feedback from the Better Business Bureau,” said Lambert. “Do due diligence to see if there’s other people that are using this.”
Lambert explained that if your child has been enrolled in public school, you will need to fill out a withdrawal form and include a curriculum before getting started.
Mann said that another option is to keep you child enrolled in school, and have your hired educator through her service follow the school’s curriculum plan.
“I know there are so many other parents out in Austin and really in the world who are looking for something like this,” said Mann. “Where they can keep their exposure low, but provide some either… care for their children so that these parents can work from home, or an education setting for their kids.”