There's an upward trend of parents who are choosing to keep their kids at home to learn this fall rather than sending them back to the classroom.
There's always a lot of nerves for students, teachers and parents at the beginning of the school year but there's more unknowns than ever with COVID-19 looming over us.
Cochranite, Natalie Amies has made the decision to keep her seven-year old daughter, Quinn, home this school year.
She has opted to pull Quinn out of Rocky View Schools and begin homeschooling.
Amies says "For me it was more like, okay we need to pick a routine and stick to it and I just didn't feel comfortable, taking the risk of sending them all back to school and then October, everything goes sideways and we have to bring them all back home again."
She says homeschooling will offer her family more flexibility, which is vital considering she and her husband both work full-time.
"We actually get to plan our day around specific activities in her lesson plan, that we get to choose. So if we want to build an entire module with Lego, we can."
Amies says Quinn is adjusting to the idea of staying home this fall.
"When we first started talking about it, it would upset her. She wants to go back to school, she wants to see her friends. She's expecting to go back to school in the way that it was. She doesn't really understand that it's not going to be the same. I told her the other day again, you will be learning school, at home and there's no tears about it anymore."
Amies, whose husband is diabetic and has extended family with heart conditions, says she's nervous.
"Just not knowing how it's going to go. Just trusting yourself as a parent that you're doing the right thing, you're making the right decision. There's so many people out there still judging everybody. There's so much judgement. That gets hard to deal with as you kind of dive deeper into things and you make those decisions."
Amy Miller, who also lives in Cochrane says her son, Elliott was enrolled in Kindergarten but she and her husband have made the decision to keep him home.
"Being that he's only going into Kindergarten, it was an easier decision to make. I think if he was going into Grade 1, it probably would have been a little harder. We sort of thought about all of the restrictions that are in place and how much actual learning time he's going to be having just in the mornings, and we thought it would be nicer just to take advantage of the year of having him home still."
Miller says they've been able to sign him up for some online classes.
"He's actually starting an engineering course, like science, technology, engineering, art and math focused that he's going to be starting next week. It's online with a teacher and he'll be doing some building."
"He'll also participate in more educational activities with his friends that some of my other friends are also choosing to homeschool too. So we can do some bigger enrichment projects together, so he's really excited about that. He's also excited that he gets to do more extra-curricular stuff like golf during the day that we wouldn't have been able to take as much advantage of with school."
Miller, who is a former educator herself says she feels for all of the teachers and staff heading back to classroom.
"I do have a lot of empathy for them for this coming year. I feel like they are really going to have their plates full. Knowing how with students, you're going to have some coming one week and then if they have any of those symptoms, they're gone for two weeks. So having that influx of kids in and out, I think it's going to be really hard to keep the classroom consistent and to stay on top of all of their objectives."
Rocky View Schools is currently asking parents what they plan to do this fall. They are hoping to have a tally of which kids plan to head back to the classroom vs. which students will utilize their online learning options or who will be opting to homeschool this school year.
Cochrane Home Educators offers a Friday gym program, swimming lessons and outdoor Ed, among other programs for homeschooling families.
Dani Cote, with the group, says "I will say that this will be an unprecedented year for homeschooling. The homeschool boards are overwhelmed right now with families choosing homeschooling over sending back to brick and mortar school. In order to homeschool in Alberta you have to join a homeschool board where you are assigned a facilitator to answer your questions and help you whenever/wherever you need it.
You can find more information about Cochrane Home Educators here.