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There’s a trend now of teachers being asked to oversee the education of very small groups (or “pods”) of students while parents work. This may be a good solution for teachers who have been let go due to district budget cuts or who are too medically fragile to return to the classroom. It may also be an answer for families with a medically fragile member or families who are trying to minimize their contact with COVID-19.

However, these solutions can create their own sets of issues. There are quite a few things that school systems and other formal modes of education take care of and are allowed for by national, state, and local government. Teachers and families who move outside this realm can quickly find themselves in legal trouble. Here are some things to be aware of as you move forward.

The Many Types of Education

Right off the bat, we need to clarify some terms. First, homeschooling is when parents or guardians choose to teach their children from home. Although remote schooling (or virtual schooling) IS done from home, it is not “homeschooling”.

The reason it’s important to know the difference is state law. In addition, they are funded two different ways. Virtual and remote learning are methods being used by government-funded entities and are paid for with government funds. Because of this, the government gets to say what curriculum is used, how it is taught, and who teaches it.

Private schools are privately funded and have their own sets of rules and laws in place.

Charter schools are publicly funded, hold to the same non-discrimination laws, and are usually responsible for administering state testing. They do not charge for attendance and can make many of their own rules. They adhere to a different set of standards than a public school. Other variations change state by state.

Public schools are fully funded by the government and are overseen by the government.

This idea that families with their own self-made “pods” of children can just hire a teacher and do what they want may seem simple in the beginning. However, the idea can easily start to blur lines and create havoc for all types of schooling.

Need to Know

So if you are thinking of tutoring, starting a micro-school, or even a daycare, there are several sets of state guidelines you must consider:

* homeschooling laws

* child care (or daycare) laws

* private school laws
* laws that regulate education

To further complicate things, the laws vary drastically from one state to the next. If I am in Texas, I can’t tell you anything about what’s okay to do in Illinois, for example. Your laws are different in so many ways from mine.

And in some states, like California, one area or another may be so incredibly complicated that it makes caring for kids not related to you nearly impossible for the average individual. 

So start with homeschooling laws, and move through the list to try to answer some of these big questions.

What Is Regulated?

There are few things that are NOT regulated by states - it’s actually easier to say that to begin with. Here are some of the biggies that are, though:

* ratios - every state regulates how many children of each age range can be cared for by one adult

* building and safety regulations - for schools and child care facilities, there are requirements in terms of how big each room in the home or school must be, what materials can be found in the construction, how many and what kind of doors and windows there are, what sort of paint can be used, how wide doors need to be, what signage must be hanging where, and so much more

* insurance - anyone keeping children not related to them routinely for more than a couple of hours has to have insurance, especially if the childcare takes place in their home

Even within child care, most states have different levels of care and offer specific licenses to be had by each. The state has to be able to inspect the home or facility often and will require changes according to regulations.

If you make it past ALL of that, and you have the right numbers, you’ve applied for any licensing you need, you’ve checked all the homeschooling laws and governmental schooling regulations, you’ve made sure you’ve got insurance to cover everything, then you will be ready to tutor or open your own little micro-school.

To do that, there are some very specific things you may not be legally required to have, but which you, as a business person working for yourself, will need.

And that information will be in our next article about private tutoring businesses.

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