My child’s public or private school is closed indefinitely due to COVID-19. Are we homeschooling now?
No. “Homeschooling” is often mistakenly used as a blanket term for the many ways that education can take place in the home. However, enrolling a student in a home-based private educational program is a legal status under Wisconsin law. A temporary school closure that requires your child to be at home does not change your child’s enrollment status. Unless you enroll your child in your Wisconsin home-based private educational program, effectively withdrawing your child from their previous school, your child is still a public or private school student.
If you are looking for information about how to continue your public or private school student’s education at home, please refer your questions to your school or school district.
If you are considering changing your child’s educational status, WPA is here to help. Please visit our Start Here page to learn more about homeschooling in Wisconsin.
I read on social media that if my children are distance learning at home due to their school being closed, and I am also working from home and it all becomes overwhelming, I can simply fill out the PI-1206 form to homeschool, and my kids can just “deschool” for the rest of the year. Is it true that all I need to do is to fill out this form, send the school an email withdrawing my child, and then simply “deschool” for the rest of the year?
No. When you file the PI-1206, it is imperative to understand that you are signing and filing a legal document where you agree to the following requirements of our homeschool law (Wisconsin Statute 118.165):
(a)The primary purpose of the program is to provide private or religious-based education.
(b)The program is privately controlled.
(c) The program provides at least 875 hours of instruction each school year.
(d) The program provides a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health. This subsection does not require the program to include in its curriculum any concept, topic, or practice in conflict with the program’s religious doctrines or to exclude from its curriculum any concept, topic, or practice consistent with the program’s religious doctrines.
If you are signing and filing the PI-1206 without the intent of fulfilling these requirements, you are not operating a legitimate or legal home-based private educational program, and are in violation of Wisconsin Statute 118.165(e) and Wisconsin Statute 118.15(1)(a) by filing the PI-1206 in order to circumvent Wisconsin’s compulsory attendance laws.
“Deschooling” is a process used by some families to transition from an institutional education to a homeschool setting. It is not a means to get out of providing an educational program, a stop-gap measure for the rest of a school year, or a way to circumvent the law.
We ask that you read the Start Here page on the WPA website in order to gain a better understanding of what is involved and what your responsibilities are when establishing and operating a home-based private educational program.
Does the waiver issued by DPI regarding hours requirements for the 2019-2020 school year due to COVID-19 related school closures apply to homeschools as well?
No. Home-based private educational programs were not included in the list of school closures, are not under the control of the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), and therefore are not included in the required hours waiver. Home-based private educational programs get 12 months to fulfill their 875 hours of instruction.
I am homeschooling my children, and have agreed to watch some other children whose school has closed due to COVID-19. Since they are not in school, and their parents want them to receive some instruction, can I just include them in our homeschool, or provide lessons for them separately from the lessons I am providing to my own children?
The definition of a home-based private educational program in Wisconsin Statute 115.001(3g) is:
“‘Home-based private educational program’ means a program of educational instruction provided to a child by the child’s parent or guardian or by a person designated by the parent or guardian. An instructional program provided to more than one family unit does not constitute a home-based private educational program.” (WI stat 115.001(3g))
If you are homeschooling your own children, you cannot also homeschool children who are enrolled in another family’s home-based private educational program. It would be okay for children who are still enrolled in their public or private school to observe the lessons you are giving your children, or for them to be working on their own school work assigned from their school or their parents while you are giving lessons to your children. However, you should in no way take responsibility for those children’s education.
In Wisconsin, if you wish to provide an educational program for children from more than one family unit, you can easily set up a private school.
Since schools have been closed due to COVID-19, children are receiving free lunches from the schools. Can my homeschooled children receive those lunches as well?
Each school district sets its own policies for who may receive lunches at this time. If you have further questions about eligibility, check with your local school or school district.