Back in March Governor Sununu suspended the state attendance law, which requires children ages 6-18 years old to attend a state-approved school for 180 days of instruction per year. He essentially created a law, authorizing remote learning for students indefinitely.
Unfortunately, remote learning in the home interferes with the ability of parents to return to work and provide for their families. In their struggle to find a safe learning environment for their children, parents have begun networking and creating informal learning pods where they can share the task of overseeing their children’s remote learning, and get back to work.
So, on September 3, 2020, Governor Sununu signed Emergency Order #67 Establishing the Remote Learning Center Verification Program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. Now, any parent of a public or private school student, who attempts to network with other working parents to provide a safe learning environment for their children, may need to undergo the tedious process of licensure with DHHS for their remote learning group. Sununu has abandoned even the pretense of using existing law to justify his edicts: requiring licenses without legislative action is unabashed creation of new law.
To obtain DHHS approval, each parent must get a criminal background check and no one may supervise anyone else’s children until this licensing process is complete. Currently, this can take up to two weeks to be completed. Daycare centers must use this process and cannot allow a new staff member to work until all verification is complete. Adding a slew of new parents who are setting up learning pods to this verification process will increase the backlog and lengthen the process for everyone.
There is an exemption from licensure when the “provider does not receive compensation, beyond costs incurred” for providing care or supervision. Say, for example, five parents create a learning pod for their children. If even one parent is an “essential worker,” who can’t take any days off to help with the learning pod, and offers to pay the others for his child to be supervised, then the entire learning pod must become licensed by the DHHS. No compensation is allowed in unregulated learning pods.
One way out of this predicament is to homeschool your child and then set up learning pods.
Home education doesn’t fall under the purview of the governor’s edict #67. At least not yet. MA Governor Baker signed an edict to regulate learning pods, Remote Learning Parent Cooperatives, on August 28, and Sununu followed suit as he usually does, and signed his edict the following week.
You may be interested in the effort to Take Back Education: School Boards Need to Listen to Parents.
Many parents are considering homeschooling. It’s less stressful than the current public school environment. No masks. No technology hassles, indoctrination, and intrusions into your home. Your child can learn at his or her own pace.
If parents notify their school district by October 1st of their intent to homeschool, they will lower their district’s attendance numbers, which are reported to the state. Lower attendance numbers mean less state funding. Loss of funding may finally get your school board’s attention: money is the only thing that motivates union-controlled boards. In Manchester, to date, nearly 700 students have been withdrawn from the district.
If you as a parent want to make an impact, this is how to do it. You can always re-assess in a month or two, if the public schools start listening to you. You can re-register with the district, or continue with homeschooling. If you’re worried about support, there are many homeschooling groups in NH. A good place to start is at Granite State Home Educators.