Private Home School Applications Spike During COVID Pandemic

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It has been a daily grind for two mothers who decided to home school their children when the pandemic forced schools to close last year.

"We're doing. There are very good days. And then there are not so good days where I kind of want to pull out my hair," Jessica Sherwood, mother of two, said.

But these moms say it's been worth the effort.

"It has opened my eyes a little bit to the possibility of educating my kids moving forward," said Katie Nelson, mother of four, including three school-aged children.

The NBC4 I-Team first met these mothers last July when they, like many others, decided to take over their children's education, instead of participating in the online learning offered by local schools.

They filed what's called a "private school affidavit" or PSA, to create their own private home-based school.

Back then, the I-Team found the number of these types of PSA's increased, and we've learned they've skyrocketed since. New data from the California Department of Education shows PSA's of five students or less filed in October, which are for the current school year, have more than doubled from the previous year, and they've continued to double every month since, compared to the year before.

Those changes could have a big impact. Fewer students in schools means less funds for cash strapped school districts. The money estimated per student in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade is $18,000 for the upcoming school year, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom's January Budget.

Nelson and Sherwood say they were able to find free resources and connect with other home school parents online and that homeschooling comes down to having the ability to do it and personal choice.

Nelson's son, who has special needs, just went back to school when it opened this month.

"He needed more health and education than what I could give him," Nelson said.

But she says she will not enroll her two other school aged children.
"No not this year, as they're thriving and happy with their situation. And so they'll hopefully start again in the fall," Nelson said.

Sherwood has decided to continue to homeschool her first and fourth graders.

Under state law, the California Department of Education does not monitor, inspect or oversee private schools including homeschools.

The state provides more about the options to homeschool here.

For more information on homeschooling in Southern California, check out this Facebook page.

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