With the new variant Omicron stamping its way into our lives right now, as a homeschooling parent one can only look at what is happening in schools to feel immensely glad that their children are safe at home. One of the reasons I decided to homeschool was because I didn't feel it was safe for my children to go back to school, turns out, I wasn't wrong.
Since September 2020 I have watched parents struggling to juggle their lives as they have to deal with last-minute year group closures or picking their children up at short notice because they've started coughing. The reality is, children in mainstream school have had a very unstable education over the last eighteen months, missing school at various times due to class bubbles being burst, having to isolate whether they have covid or not, or worse, having the whole school close down with overwhelming Covid cases.
I really don't know how parents have lived with such uncertainty, worrying about their children's health whilst feeling they have no choice but to play Russian roulette and send their kids to school anyway. This year, with the introduction of tests for children and vaccines for the over 12's, things seemed to improve, but here we are again, in the midst of a new strain and schools are once again dealing with waves of covid cases that are forcing them to close and to send children home to isolate.
It makes no difference how careful you are in your day to day life, or how much you minimise contact with others over the weekends if your children are sitting in a classroom with 29 other children all day, and you have no idea where those children have been or how their parents are behaving when it comes to covid. You are simply taking a chance and crossing your fingers that your child will be ok. I really feel for these parents, many of them have jobs that don't allow them to homeschool and so this is their only choice, it really shouldn't be that way.
As a homeschooling family, we get to make our own choices. If we see that covid cases are rising, we can decide for ourselves to minimise contact with others and to stay away from usual home ed meet up groups and activities. In effect, this means homeschooled children are far safer than those attending school. We all know that covid isn't going anywhere, the likelihood is we will see new variants every year and new waves each winter. Shouldn't there, therefore, be a better solution than just packing kids off to school and holding their breath?
If there was ever a time to look at the homeschooling model, this would be it. The world of work has changed forever, companies have risen above the difficulties bestowed upon them and have developed new ideas, technologies, and innovations in order to survive. With so much time, effort, and money put into making the necessary adaptions to keep the workplace going, it's unlikely they will revert to pre-covid times whenever they see an improvement. Instead, hybrid working, less staff in the office, and making face coverings compulsory will remain in place for good. It makes you wonder, therefore, why one of the only industries to be expected to stay exactly the same to a certain degree, is the education system.
Looking at it from a homeschooling perspective, it's no surprise that more time, effort, and infrastructure hasn't been put into the education sector, just look at how outdated the national curriculum is and nobody in government seems to care about that. In reality, the government could have looked into a more permanent, hybrid-working model for schools. Money seemed to become readily available for the furlough scheme, so why not for technologies for schools to adopt, for childcare costs so that when children have to stay home, their parents can still go out to work if they simply can't work from home.
It feels like yet again, education is at the bottom of the list, and therefore, children in school are living in a constant cycle of testing, staying at home, going into school, missing work, or being offered substandard work when their teachers are off with covid or isolating. I am so glad we aren't part of that perpetual cycle of uncertainty. I feel that right now, homeschooled children are definitely safer when it comes to the risk of covid spreading through their households. Our routines aren't affected and neither is our education. perhaps it's time the government used the knowledge of homeschooling parents to come up with ideas that could work in schools. Maybe it's about time to acknowledge that homeschooling doesn't deserve the bad reputation it often gets. It seems this time, we're doing things right...we're doing things better.