LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — Some parents across the DMV said they are frustrated with their public school system and are pulling their kids out, opting instead to homeschool.
Because of that, some homeschool and school at home programs said they are seeing a major surge in applications. In some cases, it has resulted in a backlog of emails and applications. One homeschool program said they have a waitlist of students trying to get approved to the programs.
“We have had to cap enrollment for the first time in our 20-year history and I think we're heading towards having a waiting list as long as our student body,” Marcie Foster, the assistant visionary at Global Village School said. “It’s unprecedented interest that we have.”
Forster said Global Village School is a homeschool program that has year-round enrollment with students based all over the world. She said all the interest they are seeing is COVID-19 related.
Dana Laukhuf, whose children were previously in the Loudoun County Public School District, is choosing to educate her children outside of the public school system now.
“I looked at the schedule and it's five to seven hours of screen time," Laukhuf said. "It's just too much. I am not going to put my kids in front of a screen that long."
Laukhuf said she will be the one to homeschool her children. In order to make the commitment, she said she had to give up her income and sense of independence, but also said she is excited to watch them learn and grow.
“It was atrocious for my third grader in the spring, so I'm going to be homeschooling them this year," the mother of three said.
Laukhuf said she isn’t the only parent making the switch to school from home.
“There's a huge flux of people that are going to be homeschooling,” Laukhuf said. “I keep hearing these statistics about only such amount of people have dropped out, but I think parents are just going to let the school know when it's good for them, because it's not my priority to be in touch with LCPS. They haven't really communicated well with me.”
According to LCPS the number of NOI’s, notice of intents to remove child from public school, has so far doubled from last year.
Laukhuf said she predicts that number is only going to go up. She said even she hasn’t notified the district of her plans to homeschool her children.
“Bottom line, it's my child and I'll do it whenever I have the time," she said. "Right now I'm busy trying to figure out what program I'm going to pick for them and getting them excited about being homeschooled."
Like LCPS, a similar trend is being reported in the Fairfax County Public School District. The district reported an additional 1,000 students who will be schooled from home in the 20-21 school year compared to 19-20. A district spokesperson said they are actively trying to process parent requests.
Another place some parents are opting to enroll their children is K12, an online public school program that allows children to school from home. In Virginia, it is also known as the Virginia Virtual Academy.
“Right now, what we're seeing is a lot of parents just wanting to have a firm plan in place for the fall,” Virginia Virtual Academy middle school principal Katie Poindexter said.
She said in order to keep up with the surge of students enrolling, they are actively hiring more teachers.
“I think that we're going to see overall close to 250 to 275 percent increase [in enrollment] over last year," Poindexter said. "Our high school has already almost tripled, We've been prepared for this growth and so we're excited about it, but it's rapid growth.”
She said they too are seeing a backlog in applications as parents actively try to enroll their child.
“Usually it takes the student between one to two weeks from start to finish to get fully approved," Poindexter said. "We're looking more at like a three to four-week turnaround to be fully approved and through our academic review process."
Poindexter said they’re seeing a lot of parents wanting to have a firm plan in place for the fall as some districts continue to finalize their back to school plans.
Similar to other homeschool programs, an official with the American School said they are also seeing an increase in enrollment interest.
“The parents that I have spoken to personally have expressed some concerns about their children's health and safety attending a traditional school," American School executive vice president Jeff Cox said of parents looking to switch to their program. "They've also expressed some concerns about just the overall uncertainty of the situation."
According to Virginia code, parents must notify their district no later than Aug. 15 of their intent to homeschool. The code also said parents can remove their child from public school later, but must give a 30-day notice.
“Any parent who moves into a school division or begins home instruction after the school year has begun shall notify the division superintendent of his intention to provide home instruction as soon as practicable and shall thereafter comply with the requirements of this section within 30 days of such notice,” Virginia Code says.