Concerns over school restrictions have local families teaming up for alternatives in the fall

BOSTON — As the school year wraps-up in Massachusetts, many local families are concerned about what classes will look like in September, especially for younger students.

Crystal Tullos, a Norfolk mom, tells Boston 25 News she’s hearing from families who are considering a “kindergarten co-op” at home.

“As I heard the rumors of what school might look like in the fall, especially for my kindergartner who - this is going to be her first experience in a public school setting - I have major concerns,” said Tullos.

Her 5-year-old daughter would be entering kindergarten in the fall.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has not yet released recommendations for the fall. Still, some districts are preparing for different scenarios, including students wearing masks, social distancing and hybrid remote/in-school learning.

Tullos says she survived remote learning with her three older children this spring, but doesn’t see how it could work for her little girl.

“The hybrid model of ‘attend every other day and do online learning’ - I don’t know how that’s going to work for a full-time working parent, Tullos said. “The little ones just do not do well with online learning. They needed constant help, constant motivation,” she added.

LOOKING FOR ALTERNATIVES

While many support the health and safety precautions being considered for the fall, Boston 25 News has been reporting some families are pushing back at the idea. Thousands of Massachusetts families are signing petitions to remove social distancing restrictions for public schools.

Other families are looking at independent homeschooling.

KINDERGARTEN CO-OPS?

Tullos says she's heard from families in her area who are looking at new options for their younger children.

“The co-op homeschool seems maybe to be the best idea because then one family can host children at their house, parents can rotate - helping each other’s kids learn - essentially a big playdate in somebody’s home,” Tullos said. She says co-op groups might even work with a literacy or math specialist for academic support.

STATE GUIDELINES

According to DESE, children are not required to enroll in school until the calendar year when a child turns six. That could mean waiting until first grade depending on the child’s birthday and district rules.

Tullos says it’s important families make sure they’re following state law.

“There are rules for in home childcare settings that you have to be licensed with the state of Massachusetts,” she said. “Work with fellow parents, friends in the neighborhood – how can we host this in our homes, with parents being present and take a hands-on approach to our children in the coming school year.”

Tullos admits it’s a divisive issue and not everyone will see it that way, but she hopes parents of kindergartners will look at their options to choose what they feel is best for their children.

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