AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the school year draws closer, parents are having to make tough decisions for their children. For some, that means getting creative with their approach to learning.
Take Jillian Kelble, for example.
Her five-year-old son, Rhys, was happy to graduate from Pre-K. But the thought of attending in-person kindergarten at his AISD school was daunting.
“I think socialization is huge for this age range,” Kelble said. “But I just don’t want to send him in-person.”
Kelble said she is torn.
She wants her son to work with other students closely and also wants to help AISD retain its admissions standards. But the risk of sending him into a sick classroom is too great.
Kelble is one of many parents facing a tough decision ahead. Most recently, she’s begun searching for other parents to share homeschooling duties to form a “learning pod.”
It’s a group of students who consistently study from home together.
In this model, families with similar standards and views about socializing during a pandemic may choose to partner with one another and take turns hosting the students at their home. This way the kids get the social interactions they need and parents get the freedom to relax or the ability to continue working undisturbed.
Other working parents told KXAN they have to search for something even greater.
Amy Ashford joked that she felt “lucky” when her husband was furloughed in the spring; that meant he could say home and help the kids with their schoolwork. But now that he’s back to work, they say they are looking to hire a teacher from the outside to come inside their home and work with the kids.
The Texas Education Agency doesn’t oversee homeschooling, but said if a teacher working for a Texas school district is considering this model, they should check with their employer first.
Ashford explained what it was like to weigh the risk versus reward with this approach.
“We have either one person coming into our house that might possibly spread [the coronavirus] to us or are we going to send our kids to school that has 1,000 kids in it where you have possibly 100 kids that are asymptomatic breathing all over us,” Ashford said.
The family said they are willing to budget several thousand dollars each month to hire someone, a privilege she doesn’t take for granted. With a fifth and seventh grader, Ashford recognized it won’t take much work, just guidance to keep the kids on track. She’s considering family friends, substitute teachers or retired teachers.
“[Financially] it would be a stretch. It would be me giving up my car. It would be me riding my bicycle to work. I’m talking about major cuts that would hurt,” Ashford said. “But it would be worth it in the long run if my kids were getting a good education.”
Both parents said they will continue to weigh their options as the first day of school draws near.