NewsLocal News


Parents explore other options as school districts start school year online

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jul 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-14 21:36:04-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- With the announcement that San Diego Unified School District is beginning their school year online, some parents are looking at other options.

Patrick Batten has four children. He said his incoming high school senior did well with distance learning in the Poway Unified School District, but it was a struggle for his 12-year-old.

“It was not a platform that she adapted to,” Batten said.

Batten and his wife both work full-time. Right now, Poway Unified is offering choices. In a letter to parents, the reopening plans include two options: a “return to on campus learning (with some online options) or participate in [the] Virtual Learning Academy.” Batten knows those options could change as the beginning of the school year gets closer. If some type of on-campus learning is off the table, they may look outside the district.

“We’re exploring the option of private school and how do we financially afford that,” Batten said. He said he would also look to a district that does offer in-person instruction.

“I’m strongly hoping that they stick with their original plan and they give the option for teachers to be able to teach in person if they’re comfortable with it, as well as if a teacher isn’t, that they have the option to teach online and give the same opportunity for parents,” Batten said.

John Anderson’s two children are in the San Diego Unified School District. Monday, the school district announced it is “committed to the beginning of the school year online.”

“I think the online experience in the spring was okay, but to do it for potentially a whole semester or a whole year, I think is going to be a pretty big struggle for the kids,” Anderson said. Like Batten, he has had discussions with his wife about options outside the district if some type of in-person instruction is not available.

Some homeschool options have seen increased interest since the pandemic began. Sage Oak Charter School is an independent studies program that operates in several counties including San Diego. Student services coordinator Chelsey Anema said the number of inquiries to the school has increased “extreme numbers.”

“Our normal family that enrolls is a family who, they just are passionate about homeschooling. Now, I think a lot of families are enrolling who are wanting out of the traditional brick and mortar school because they don’t want what they had in the spring,” Anema said.

South Bay mom Elisa Hilliard homeschools her three daughters and shares her experience through her social media channels as “San Diego Homeschool Mom.” Hilliard has advice for parents looking to homeschool their own kids.

“Things are going to be different and they’re not always going to be easy. You have to be ready for change,” she said. “It [also] really depends what your schedule is like, how flexible your hours are, can you build a schedule with your family.”

The San Diego Unified School District will give parents another update on August 10th. When asked about enrollment numbers, a SDUSD spokesperson said that data is not available until a few weeks after the school year starts.