Homeschooling during the COVID-19 pandemic

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There was a resurgence of homeschooling during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Variations of homeschooling include micro schools and educational family co-ops. The first usually involves hired professionals to teach a small group of kids (similar to one-room schoolhouses). The second is a parent-organized co-operative where families take turns educating and minding their kids during the week. Both are largely available only to the well-off, as costs in time and money are high. 'Pandemic pod' is the fashionable term used to describe one of these arrangements where all group members agree to participate under well-defined and strictly enforced health rules.


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education forced school closures around the world. [1] [2] Parents are left to manage their children and it is causing economic, [3] [4] educational, [5] political [6] [7] [8] and psychological distress. [9] A University of California, San Francisco study states that schools can't open safely until COVID-19 transmission in a general population is under control. [10]

As schools have been closed to cope with the global pandemic, students, parents and educators around the globe have felt the unexpected ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. While governments, frontline workers and health officials are doing their best slowing down the outbreak, education systems are trying to continue imparting quality education for all during these difficult times. Many students at home/living space have undergone psychological and emotional distress and have been unable to engage productively. The best practices for online homeschooling are yet to be explored, and it is unclear if homeschooling, or any other mitigation effort, can prevent students from falling behind. [11]

To mitigate the disruption of school closures, multiple educational structures have been proposed. These terms are used interchangeably and this makes it confusing for parents who are trying to figure out how to organize their lives this fall as most schools will only offer virtual instruction. But basically there are three distinct ideas: pandemic pods, micro schools, and family co-ops. [12] [13]

Pandemic pod

A pandemic pods is a small group of people who are all taking similar precautions against catching the virus. A family unit living together is a natural pandemic pod — everyone is taking responsibility for everyone else's health outcomes. This is also true of roommates and housemates. If one person in a pandemic pod catches the virus, chances are high that the other members of the pandemic pod will get it too. [14]

Family co-op

A family co-op is not a pandemic-related entity. Most family co-ops form to ease the economic pressures of child care among several families. Several families get together and agree to share afterschool care of all the kids on certain days. This arrangement frees each set of parents from childcare several times per week. If five families are involved, then each family can take responsibility for all kids once per week. Instead of money, this social arrangement trades in time. Family co-ops is a very old arrangement that has been extensively studied in academic literature. [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

Canadian family bubble

In early April 2020, Canadian authorities actively encouraged the formation of family bubble — two families (usually with kids) who would join together and share responsibility for each other. [21]

Micro school

A micro school is some variation on the one-room school where parents hire a teacher to educate their children. Micro schools can be as small as just one family hiring a teacher or a group of parents makes arrangements for all of their children together, splitting the costs of such endeavor. The biggest advantage of micro schools is that parents have total control over their children's education, including the choice of teachers. Micro Schools can vary significantly in costs. [22] [23]

Some parents created "school pods" of multiple families or hired tutors to instruct students by zoom. [24]

Pandemic educational family co-op

A pandemic educational family co-op is the cross of all three structures: the micro schools, the family co-ops, and the Pandemic pods. Pandemic educational family co-ops function just like the educational family co-ops but in addition to all of the rest, the pandemic version stresses pandemic precautions within the group. This is the most economical solution for parents that are stuck without "brick and mortar" schools to send their kids during the week. [25]

Related Research Articles

Homeschooling Education of children outside of school

Homeschooling or home schooling, also known as home education or elective home education (EHE), is the education of school-aged children at home or a variety of places other than school. Usually conducted by a parent, tutor, or an online teacher, many homeschool families use less formal, more personalized and individualized methods of learning that are not always found in schools. The actual practice of homeschooling can look very different. The spectrum ranges from highly structured forms based on traditional school lessons to more open, free forms such as unschooling, which is a lesson- and curriculum-free implementation of homeschooling. Some families who initially attended a school go through a deschool phase to break away from school habits and prepare for homeschooling. While "homeschooling" is the term commonly used in North America, "home education" is primarily used in Europe and many Commonwealth countries. Homeschooling shouldn't be confused with distance education, which generally refers to the arrangement where the student is educated by and conforms to the requirements of an online school, rather than being educated independently and unrestrictedly by their parents or by themselves.

Micro-schooling is the reinvention of the one-room school house, where class size is typically smaller than that in most schools and there are mixed-age level groupings. Generally, micro-schools do not meet all 5 days of the school week, and their schedules look different than a traditional public or private school. Classes can be taught using a flipped classroom approach, a form of blended learning, though not all micro-schools focus on technology in the same ways. Classes tend to be more impactful due to meeting fewer times in the week. Classes may use instructional methods, ranging from traditional lecture-based approaches to hands-on and activity-based approaches. Micro-schooling is viewed as a replacement for various school paradigms that are standard worldwide.

Elizabeth Bartholet is the Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Faculty Director of Harvard Law School's Child Advocacy Program (CAP). She teaches civil rights and family law, specializing in child welfare, adoption and reproductive technology. She calls homeschooling 'a threat to children and society'.

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Spring Education Group (SEG), is a for-profit private school company based in Saratoga, California. It is majority-owned by Primavera Capital Group, a Chinese-based investmentor. SEG's CEO is Shawn Weidmann.

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