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Coronavirus and thinking of homeschooling?

At such a crazy time, you might be thinking that it might be nice to homeschool for a while. And while I don’t think we need to fear and panic, being wise and discerning is always a good thing.

If you’re in Washington, I would HIGHLY encourage you to “like” the Washington Homeschool Organization facebook page. It’s chock full of homeschooling resources that go WAY deeper into the legal steps you need to take. If you’re not in Washington, find the state equivalent of their page. It’s totally worth it for all of those “what about..?” question you may have

Here’s their latest post related to the Coronavirus:

“Dear Newbie Lurker Who is Lurking Here Because of COVID-19 or SB 5395 or your kiddo has a headache, stomach ache, etc. every morning (or, at this point in the year, is threatening suicide):

Let’s discuss your many educational options in WA state.

You have three basic choices for educating your 8-18yo in WA state:  public school (this is the default), private school, or homeschooling.  If your child is under 8 and you withdraw them from public school, they revert to being educationally free.  At the point that they turn 8, you will need to decide to send them to school, or to begin homeschooling.  More on that here:  https://washhomeschool.org/intro-homeschooling-part-1-compulsory-attendance/


Among your public school choices are the traditional M-F 8-4 Brick-and-Mortar schools; ALEs including Parent Partnership Programs, “Homelink” programs, digital learning (online public schools), and our trades highschools (that usually serve multiple districts).   All of these, including those that take place completely in the home, are public school programs, subject to the public school laws.


Private schools are all brick-and-mortar in WA.  There are no approved online private schools in WA at this time.  Private schools operate under a separate law from public schools in WA.

Attendance in online private schools in other states is treated as a curriculum choice by homeschool parents, and the  HBI (homeschool) law applies.  More on that below.


In WA, homeschooling is narrowly defined as being “provided by a parent, educating his or her child only” with ” all decisions relating to philosophy or doctrine, selection of books, teaching materials and curriculum, and methods, timing and place in the provision or evaluation of home-based instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent.”

To legally homeschool in WA, you need to:

Qualify: http://washhomeschool.org/intro-homeschooling-part-2-qualifying/  should you not have the 45 college quarter credits and need to qualify, we have an upcoming course:  https://washhomeschool.org/events/

Declare Your Intent:  http://washhomeschool.org/intro-homeschooling-seminar-part-3-declaration-intent/

Cover the 11 Subjects: http://washhomeschool.org/intro-homeschooling-part-5-11-subjects/

Test or Assess Annually: http://washhomeschool.org/intro-homeschooling-part-4-test-assessment/

and Keep Certain Records (covered in the test/assessment link)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

SO . . . WHAT TO DO . . . ?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


If what you want to do is to remove your child from school (they’re medically fragile, they’re not sick, but you want to socially distance you and yours, etc. — basically, you’re not looking to homeschool long tern, but you also want to avoid ending up in court on a charge of truancy:  Qualify and file your Declaration of Intent, and homeschool for the period of time you feel you need to keep them out.  

PROS:  You’re able to quarantine yourself without fear of truancy.

CONS: If you have choiced in to your school, you may lose your spot.  


If you’ve decided that you want to continue attending public school, but have decided that you don’t want to do that in a brick-and-mortar setting, you’ll want to look into the digital learning (online school) options that we have in WA.  Most of these are not currently taking students, but are enrolling in the fall.  So your option there, if you want to physically distances yourselves, is to homeschool to finish out this year, and apply for a spot for the fall.  (This will require a district transfer, assuming your district does not have one of these programs).

PROS: You have the continued oversight and accountability from the school.

CONS: You still fall under the public school laws and regulations.  Although online public school resembles homeschooling in a number of ways, it’s still public schooling and not homeschooling, with you in the role of unpaid public school employee, overseeing the work. (So it helps the COVID-19 issue, but not the SB 5395 issue).


ALE/PPP:  If you’re fleeing for COVID-19 reasons or SB 5395 reasons, this is probably not the right choice for you, as these programs still involve in-person classes, and are still public school, so they still fall under the same public school rules and regulations as the traditional brick-and-mortar schools.


Has the same COVID-19 issues as public school.  Also has the additional tuition burden.  Likely doesn’t have the SB 5395 issue, though they might choose to offer comprehensive sex education.


(Including online out of state private schools (which are treated merely as a curriculum choice as mentioned above).

Homeschooling is AWESOME.  It’s awesome for many reasons, one of which is that homeschoolers are already really great at sequestering themselves when they have the sniffles. 

This makes us notoriously unreliable, but it also makes us quite robust, despite our chronically low vaccination rate.  We already tend to keep our germies to ourselves.

PROS: Homeschooling gives you the most flexibility — to follow your children’s interests, to go at their own unique pace, to mitigate their weaknesses and play to their strengths, to cover human sexuality in the context of your worldview, to foster strong family bonds, to really and truly tailor your child’s education to their individual goals, needs, and desires.

CONS: You get all the freedom; you bear all the responsibility, including financial.  You lose the babysitting component of public or private school (and, if you had it, a second income).  I’m not going to lie: homeschooling is sacrificial.  And deciding to make that sacrifice is a big decision. (I gave up the possibility of being a tenure track professor).  But I’ll tell you this:  ask any homeschooling parent if they’d make that sacrifice again —  and I’m telling you every last one of them would.  Every.  Last,  One.

Note for my newbies whose CHILD’S MENTAL HEALTH is suffering:  I know you hoped it would get better after Christmas, and I know that it hasn’t.  It’s likely even worse than it was at Thanksgiving.  These three articles will help explain it — and know that you aren’t alone:



My best advice for you is to GTFO.  I know you’re scared.  I know it’s a big step.  But I also know you’re watching the light go our of h** eyes, you can see the signs of stress on their faces and bodies — you’re here precisely because you know that homeschooling is what you should do.  Read Homeschooling’s Dirty Little Secret (link below), and know that the terror you feel we all felt.  You are not alone.  You’re not even alone in coming to homeschooling because of mental health.  Come to homeschooling and give yourself and your child the peace and healing *he needs.  You won’t regret it.  And maybe *he decides to return to the school in the future, and maybe not.  A lot of us came to homeschooling because we had to, but stayed because we fell in love with it.

So, my sweet Newbie, quietly lurking here, trying to sort this out.  The comments section is right below.  As the questions you’ve been keeping to yourself.  The Homeschool Hivemind here is terrific.  We’ll hold your hand, encourage you, help you get your bearings.

We’ll let you in on Homeschooling’s Dirty Little Secret (https://www.facebook.com/washhomeschool/posts/10152129342904159), encourage those of you with wee ones (<8yo) to use that educational freedom to focus on unstructured play: (https://washhomeschool.org/delaying-formal-instruction/), answer any specific questions you have left over after reading the million links I have here, and generally cheerlead, mentor, and welcome you into the fold. 

Come to the Dark Side — we have chocolate!
~Jen Garrison Stuber, Advocacy Chair
Washington Homeschool Organization”
Posted on their Facebook page 3/12/2020