Homeschooling on the rise in Louisiana during virus outbreak

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FILE – In this April 9, 2020, file photo, Sunnyside Elementary School fourth-grader Miriam Amacker does school work in her room at her family’s home in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana is seeing the ranks of its homeschooled students grow larger during the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of homeschooled students was 33,001 in October, the latest data available from the state, a 4% increase over the previous year and a 10% hike for homeschooled students who hope to qualify for college scholarships.

“There are so many who have pulled their kids out of school because of COVID,” said Christopher Chin, president of Homeschool Louisiana, a networking group for parents and students.

The number of students taught at home has grown by 23% in the past five years and 76% in the past decade, according to a report from The Advocate.

Homeschooled students make up 5% of the state’s total student population.

Chin said some families have opted for homeschooling because of what he called the lack of planning by school officials and the pitfalls for those who rely on distance learning.

“They are realizing that homeschool is a viable education alternative,” said Chin, whose groups includes about 1,200 families statewide.

Classrooms were closed in March during the first wave of the pandemic, forcing educators to rely on virtual education, with mixed results. In the current school year, 64% of students are getting in-person instruction, according to the state education department, but some schools have been plagued by stops and starts because of virus spikes and students being sent home to quarantine.

Louisiana has two forms of homeschooling, both of which requires families to sign up with the state Department of Education and to renew annually.

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