Atascadero Unified School District is giving students more options when it comes to attending school in the upcoming school year.
The office of the superintendent sent out a letter to parents earlier this month saying students could continue in-classroom learning, blended learning, or distance learning and online education.
Chris Balogh, the principal for Alternative Education Academy, which is a homeschool program in the district, says in the last three weeks, he's had nearly 70 interviews with families interested in homeschooling in the 2020-2021 school year.
"At this point, anyone can join us because the future is pretty uncertain and we want to take care of our families," Balogh said.
Balogh says some families are looking for alternative options for their students after summer break is over. He says, when speaking with families, there have been four different scenarios. After schools closed in March, students were forced to do distance learning, and that was a good fit for some students.
"Some families had been thinking for, it was in their values, like, we're going to homeschool and this gave them an opportunity with COVID-19 and the shutdown and this gave them the opportunity to have this experience and they loved it," Balogh said.
He says another reason families might consider homeschooling is for safety reasons related to Covid-19. Balogh says some families have expressed that they don't see a point in sending their student to school every day if their student can't socialize and has to maintain social distance.
"They want some certainty about the future," Balogh said. "There has been so much uncertainty, anxiety, and concern and they want to figure fall out. They don't want to wait for individual schools, which are going to come up with great plans but they just don't feel comfortable so they reach out to us and say, looks like you guys have been doing this for a while, what does this look like?"
Balogh says enrollment at ACE Academy has tripled in the last three weeks for elementary-aged students and doubled for middle school-aged students.
"If they come to ACE Academy, we're totally experienced working with families like we will help you through, we will train you on how to deliver the materials, we will meet with you every week and work with your children," Balogh said. "It's not like we're handing you a packet of work and saying, have a nice day, we are providing you with enrichment opportunities."
He says as more students continue to enroll, the school will make plans and staffing shifts to make sure there are enough teachers for the influx of new students.
"Already just looking at our projections, I'm looking at 100 more students and we haven't even gotten to school enrollment season yet," Balogh said.
Aside from homeschooling, students can take advantage of blended learning, which is a combination of in-classroom learning and homeschooling.
"You're still a part of that school, is there a part of that day you still want to attend?" Balogh said.
If you or your student lives within the jurisdiction of Atascadero Unified School and is interested in homeschooling options for the upcoming school year, click here.