School Choice in the Post-Covid Era: A New World of Options

With fears about the spread of Covid-19 and many parents who may be zoned to, or attending a school that may not be offering the mode of instruction they are most comfortable with for their children (remote/online, in-person, or a hybrid version), many parents are considering different options that they hadn’t previously considered. While many parents are aware of public school open enrollment options, magnet, charter, and private school scholarship programs, let’s talk about some of the more non-traditional options families are considering in this post-pandemic era. More families than ever before are utilizing their right to exercise school choice!

Homeschooling

Homeschooling, also known as home education, is the education of children at home or at a variety of places other than school. Home education is usually conducted by a parent, tutor, or an online teacher and homeschool families have un-enrolled or opted out of attending a public, charter, or private school. Homeschooling has long been a popular option for many families who prefer to be in control of the curriculum their child is using and the pace in which they are learning, but more families than ever are looking at homeschooling, even if only as a temporary option, in this Post-Covid era. For more information on the homeschool laws around the country please click here. If homeschooling is an optin you are considering be mindful of any potential impact this could have on scholarship eligibility in a future year in your state.

Pandemic Pods or Learning Pods1

Micro-schools, pods, pandemic pods, and learning pods all refer to the same concept: students gathering together in a small group – with adult supervision – to learn, explore, and socialize. Usually, pods are formed when families in a neighborhood or vicinity bring children similar in age group together. Pods are appealing to many families now because they feel their children can learn a much smaller environment with fewer health risks, but still get interaction and instruction with a live teacher and other students. Microschooling and homeschool co-ops are options that are sometimes used interchangeably with the term learning pod, though microschools can also be miniature forms of private or charter schools. Now let’s look at the different types of pods out there:

  • Self-Directed Pods are usually composed of families who have un-enrolled their children from any public, charter or private school and are choosing to utilize outside curriculum and an outside teacher such as a parent or a hired tutor to lead instruction.
  • Learning Support Pods are usually composed of families who have chosen to keep their children enrolled in a particular public, charter, or private school, but who are using a pod so that students can collectively utilize and get help with remote learning curriculum and lessons provided by their school.

Virtual Schools

Virtual schools are another form or remote learning where families enroll their children in a private or charter virtual school that delivers instruction through the internet. This is another option that was popular with many families for whom a brick and mortar school is not a good option, pre-pandemic, but has become even more popular in recent months. Some families enrolled in virtual schools choose to form a co-op or learning pod to utilize their virtual school curriculum.

Resources and Support

  • Some states allow families to utilize state or federally funded scholarship programs like ESAs to support their homeschooling, learning pod, and remote learning needs. For more information on if these programs exist in your state, please talk to an AFC staff member or partner in your state.
  • There are a number of web sites designed to help you form a learning pod or to find a learning pod near you such as: https://www.getschoolhouse.com/.
  • Check with our friends at http://www.schoolchoiceweek.com for more information on the above options and many more.
  • Check out our Covid Back to School Questionnaire for a list of questions to consider when looking at different charter, public, and private school options.

1Majority of information on pods pulled from http://www.schoolchoiceweek.com