Before children head back inside the school classroom, parents are starting discussions about what happens inside their home classes.
Many school districts are offering hybrid back-to-school models for students, meaning they'll spend 2-3 days in school, and the remainder of the week learning remotely from home. Some school districts are starting the school year entirely virtually. Parents went through this in March when Pennsylvania schools closed, and according to Liz Clippinger and Lauren Webster, regional director and local franchisee respectively for Sylvan Learning Center locations in South Central Pennsylvania, they are looking to avoid the same loss in learning their children experienced in the spring.
"We're hearing more and more parents nervous about the dramatic loss of education their kids are going to potentially receive," Clippinger said. "Right now is a really hard time of year, because schools are making decisions and parents really don’t know what’s going to happen."
Over the last month, Google searches for "homeschooling" are up statewide. Clippinger and Webster say most of their clients come to them because they're having trouble following course material, which is made even more difficult when students aren't taking part in face-to-face learning.
"It’s at their pace. It’s specifically what they need. You don’t have to raise your hand in a class or group setting and say 'I don’t get this' in front of your peers," Clippinger said. "It’s individualized, one-on-one, and they’re able to ask those questions in a safe learning environment."
Another local tutoring service is Huntington Learning Center, based in Harrisburg. Its owner, Jay Murray, says because of the increased demand, they are extending their hours and allowing students to come in to learn virtually during the day. Mom and dad will be able to go to work, and kids can log in remotely to their classroom, while still having a teacher's help in-person.
"Not all the materials are built for an online environment," Murray said. "It can be difficult when you're alone online and you have a question and you may not get an immediate answer, and you're waiting for an answer to come back."
Both Sylvan and Huntington Learning Centers say they offer virtual and in-person sessions with social distancing.