BECKLEY, W.Va. –Homeschool students from at least 20 counties in West Virginia are taking advantage of the new law that allows them to participate in West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC) activities.
They are doing so under a new state law that was approved by state lawmakers earlier this year.
“We have been working with school boards, guidance counselors, SSAC, principals, to make sure that everyone is on the same page. To know what is expected of them, to show their proof of residency, to make sure they know they only get to play at their zone school,” homeschoolers legislative liaison Jamie Buckland, of Raleigh County, told MetroNews.
To have an opportunity to go out for a team or to participate in any other extra-curricular activity, the law requires homeschooled students to register with their county board of education and prove through an accepted standardized test that they scored within or above the fourth stanine in each of five required subjects including science, social studies, math, reading and language. Buckland said the pandemic has made it difficult for homeschool families to obtain the test scores but some have.
Buckland said she’s heard from families in at least 20 of the 55 counties who have students participating in public school sports summer practices and conditioning.
The law also includes language similar to the SSAC transfer rule. A student leaving public school to be homeschooled would have to sit out 365 days before being eligible to play sports.
Other requirements include enrollment in at least one virtual school class through the public school system or the state Department of Education and homeschooled students are restricted to participate in the school zone in which they live.
Increase in homeschoolers expected because of pandemic
Meanwhile, Buckland predicted the ongoing pandemic will increase the numbers of families opting for homeschooling at least for this school year.
“Some of the families have children with asthma or have elderly grandparents who live them so they are genuinely concerned about COVID transmission in schools,” she said. “Some of the families just not trusting there cannot be a sustainable plan by the government for public schools.”
Buckland said her advice for first time homeschoolers is to start small.
“Figure out what is really important, what your priorities are for your family and even for your student,” she said. “If you have a struggling reader or a child struggling in math, start small. Meet them where they are, do not try to recreate school at home.”