Homeschooling during the COVID-19 pandemic

There was a resurgence of homeschooling during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Variations of homeschooling include micro schools and educational family co-ops. The first usually involves hired professionals to teach a small group of kids (similar to one-room schoolhouses). The second is a parent-organized co-operative where families take turns educating and minding their kids during the week. Both are largely available only to the well-off, as costs in time and money are high. 'Pandemic pod' is the fashionable term used to describe one of these arrangements where all group members agree to participate under well-defined and strictly enforced health rules.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education forced school closures around the world.[1][2] Parents are left to manage their children and it is causing economic,[3][4] educational,[5] political[6][7][8] and psychological distress.[9] A University of California, San Francisco study states that schools can't open safely until COVID-19 transmission in a general population is under control.[10]

As schools have been closed to cope with the global pandemic, students, parents and educators around the globe have felt the unexpected ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. While governments, frontline workers and health officials are doing their best slowing down the outbreak, education systems are trying to continue imparting quality education for all during these difficult times. Many students at home/living space have undergone psychological and emotional distress and have been unable to engage productively. The best practices for online homeschooling are yet to be explored, and it is unclear if homeschooling, or any other mitigation effort, can prevent students from falling behind.[11]

To mitigate the disruption of school closures, multiple educational structures have been proposed. These terms are used interchangeably and this makes it confusing for parents who are trying to figure out how to organize their lives this fall as most schools will only offer virtual instruction. But basically there are three distinct ideas: pandemic pods, micro schools, and family co-ops.[12][13]

Pandemic pod

A pandemic pods is a small group of people who are all taking similar precautions against catching the virus. A family unit living together is a natural pandemic pod — everyone is taking responsibility for everyone else's health outcomes. This is also true of roommates and housemates. If one person in a pandemic pod catches the virus, chances are high that the other members of the pandemic pod will get it too.[14]

Family co-op

A family co-op is not a pandemic-related entity. Most family co-ops form to ease the economic pressures of child care among several families. Several families get together and agree to share afterschool care of all the kids on certain days. This arrangement frees each set of parents from childcare several times per week. If five families are involved, then each family can take responsibility for all kids once per week. Instead of money, this social arrangement trades in time. Family co-ops is a very old arrangement that has been extensively studied in academic literature.[15][16][17][18][19][20]

Canadian family bubble

In early April 2020, Canadian authorities actively encouraged the formation of family bubble — two families (usually with kids) who would join together and share responsibility for each other.[21]

Micro school

A micro school is some variation on the one-room school where parents hire a teacher to educate their children. Micro schools can be as small as just one family hiring a teacher or a group of parents makes arrangements for all of their children together, splitting the costs of such endeavor. The biggest advantage of micro schools is that parents have total control over their children's education, including the choice of teachers. Micro Schools can vary significantly in costs.[22][23]

Some parents created "school pods" of multiple families or hired tutors to instruct students by zoom.[24]

Pandemic educational family co-op

A pandemic educational family co-op is the cross of all three structures: the micro schools, the family co-ops, and the Pandemic pods. Pandemic educational family co-ops function just like the educational family co-ops but in addition to all of the rest, the pandemic version stresses pandemic precautions within the group. This is the most economical solution for parents that are stuck without "brick and mortar" schools to send their kids during the week.[25]


  1. ^ Gonser, Sarah (April 8, 2020). "What Past Education Emergencies Tell Us About Our Future". edutopia. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  2. ^ "Coronavirus Impact: Cancellations, closures related to COVID-19 in San Francisco Bay Area". abc7news. July 16, 2020. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  3. ^ Psacharopoulos, George; Patrinos, Harry; Collis, Victoria; Vegas, Emiliana (April 29, 2020). "The COVID-19 cost of school closures". Brookings. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  4. ^ Lindzon, Jared (March 20, 2020). "School closures are starting, and they'll have far-reaching economic impacts". Fast Company. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  5. ^ Goldstein, Dana (June 5, 2020). "Research Shows Students Falling Months Behind During Virus Disruptions". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  6. ^ Peek, Liz (July 17, 2020). "Dems, Teacher Unions Playing Politics With School Closures". Real Clear Politics. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  7. ^ Perper, Rosie (July 7, 2020). "Trump is pushing to reopen schools, which he claims are closed for political reasons and not to curb the coronavirus' spread". Business Insider. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  8. ^ "Growing number of districts decide to start the school year online". EdSource. July 14, 2020. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  9. ^ "Mental health effects of school closures during COVID-19". The Lancet. April 14, 2020. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  10. ^ Vaziri, Aidin (August 25, 2020). "Coronavirus in the classroom? New UCSF study calculates the odds". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  11. ^ Pokhrel, Sumitra; Chhetri, Roshan (January 1, 2021). "A Literature Review on Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Teaching and Learning". Higher Education for the Future. 8 (1): 133–141. doi:10.1177/2347631120983481. ISSN 2347-6311.
  12. ^ Werby, Olga (July 24, 2020). "Micro Schools, Pandemic Pods, & Educational Family Co-ops". Supermarket Science. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  13. ^ Dani, Blum; Miller, Farah (August 18, 2020). "What Parents Need to Know About Learning Pods". The New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2020.
  14. ^ "Clinical Questions about COVID-19: Questions and Answers". CDC. August 3, 2020. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  15. ^ Coontz, E. K. (1996). "Best kept secrets: Co-op preschool models need to be spread". Rural Cooperatives, 63(1).
  16. ^ Coontz, E. K. (2003). "Bringing families together: A guide to parent cooperatives". Davis, CA: University of California.
  17. ^ Dunlap, E. K. (2003). "Family empowerment: one outcome of cooperative preschool education". Child Welfare. 76 (4): 501–18. PMID 9218340.
  18. ^ Hewes, D. W. (1998). ""It's the camaraderie": A history of parent cooperative preschools". Davis, CA: University of California.
  19. ^ Oostdam, R.; Hooge, E. (2013). "Making the difference with active parenting; forming educational partnerships between parents and schools". European Journal of Psychology of Education. 28 (2): 337–351. doi:10.1007/s10212-012-0117-6. S2CID 54945865.
  20. ^ Ali, M. A. (2014). "Learning Together: A Case Study for a Cooperative School's Approach to Education". The University of San Francisco.
  21. ^ Coletta, Amanda (May 8, 2020). "Canadian provinces allow locked-down households to pair up — threatening hurt feelings all around". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 3, 2020.
  22. ^ McDonald, Kerry (October 21, 2019). "Micro-School Network Expands Learning Options". Forbes. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  23. ^ Prothero, Arianna (January 28, 2016). "What Is a Micro School? And Where Can You Find One?". Education Week. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  24. ^ Spiller, Penny (August 4, 2020). "Coronavirus: How pandemic pods and zutors are changing home-schooling". BBC News. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  25. ^ McCarthy, Ellen (August 9, 2020). "In 2020, back-to-school shopping means frantically searching for other families to 'bubble up' with". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 9, 2020.