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Some parents opting for homeschool with no virtual choice and COVID cases rising

It's not an option for many families, but other are seeking out mentors and help to keep unvaccinated kids safe

FORT WORTH, Texas — Questions and uncertainty are what kept Gloria Corral from homeschooling before last school year, but they’re also why parents are reaching out to her now.

“I know a lot of friends who have lost a family member due to COVID and so the fear is just there even moreso with their children,” Corral said.

Corral says she worried if she’d be able to teach or what socializing would be like, but after a difficult spring in 2020 with virtual learning and with cases still high last fall, she had the same fear many have now, and pulled her children out.

“The littles were having to do virtual school on the computer all day,” she said. “My husband and I just knew that that was not going to fit for each one of our kids.”

Two of her four kids would be a second-grader and kindergartener in Fort Worth ISD this year. The other two are too young. With no vaccine for kids under 12, no virtual option and no masks required, she estimates 15 district moms have already reached out in the past month about homeschooling, too.

RELATED: Back to School: Here's what to know about vaccination requirements

“There's just so much uncertainty and so everyone starting to kind of see their options,” she said.

Thursday, the TEA revealed new health guidance, which moves Texas schools further away from CDC guidance on how to safely have school in person.

This year, districts won’t have to tell parents or teachers about positive cases. Districts won’t have to contact trace, and if they do, parents can still send kids considered close contacts.

RELATED: Texas Education Agency releases new COVID-19 guidance

Corral says concerned families shouldn’t feel disappointed making the switch to learn at home.

“I'm trying to just encourage them that they are going to be pleasantly surprised,” she said.

With new respect for teachers, she’s leaned on mentors and other parents and is now in that role herself.

“I don't have a teaching background, so even just the idea of teaching phonics was probably the thing that was keeping me up at night because I was so nervous about that,” she said. “Some days I'm, you know, Mary Poppins and some days I'm like, let's just get a book and have a seat, everybody.”

RELATED: TEA reminds parents of option for students to repeat grade or courses amid 'COVID slide'

Not every family has the choice to learn at home, but with increasing cases, questions and uncertainty, some are now seeking a new option.

“There's just so many opportunities, you know, doing science, nature walks, and doing math while cooking,” Corral said. “It was challenging and struggling but just awesome, awesome.”

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