Status of schools uncertain, Hawaii families explore homeschool options during pandemic

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Updated: Jul. 27, 2020 at 8:40 PM HST
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MAUI, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With plans for reopening public schools still up in the air, more Hawaii families are considering homeschooling their children.

Maui County Council member Keani Rawlins-Fernandez and her husband homeschooled their children for about two years.

She will host an online meeting this week for families interested in teaching their keiki at home due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

"I thought that it would be a good discussion to have for the parents. They're looking for resources, they're looking for guidance," she said.

Beau Rabe and his wife were both homeschooled. They just pulled their 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son out of Hookele Elementary School in Kapolei after having trouble with distance learning during the last semester.

"Pretty much all my neighbors in my neighborhood are wanting to homeschool, and lot of my friends in town want to homeschool," Rabe said. "But the only drawback, I think, is just the time you have to put in."

There were 3,244 home-schooled students during the last school year, according to the Hawaii State Department of Education.

Officials don't have a count yet of how many families have submitted the form to opt out of required education or intent to homeschool letters for the upcoming year.

"Some parents that are considering homeschooling may not even know what this form is, and how to get it, and that it's required to homeschool," Rawlins-Fernandez said.

Molokai resident Mercy Ritte started teaching her children at home eight years ago.

She is able to tailor the lessons to their needs and learning styles, but has faced challenges with scheduling and organizing all the educational activities.

"A lot of families work, and homeschooling really needs the full attention of the parents, time," said Ritte, who is a member of the Home School Legal Defense Association. "It's just a matter of how families are going to work it out."

Councilmember Rawlins-Fernandez plans to live stream the meeting on her Facebook page.

Click here to join the talk story session through the BlueJeans app.

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