According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are at least 98,000 public schools and at least 34,000 private schools in the United States. As of March 22, 2020, 46 states have decided to close schools. Combined with district closures in other states, at least 121,000 public and private schools are closed, are scheduled to close or were closed and later reopened, affecting at least 54.5 million school children in the United States.
In Colorado, all schools are closed through April 17, 2020, impacting 905,019 public school children.
These circumstances require parents to facilitate their children’s education, as remote learning requires support and supervision. In doing so, parents will likely face both major education-related decisions and routine decisions. It is important for parents to know whether they have unilateral decision-making authority or are required to make joint decisions with the other parent and act accordingly. Major decisions include whether the child attends daily online classes, gets tutoring and completes mandatory assignments, as in many cases, this is considered school attendance. Routine decisions include providing supplies, resources and daily support as the child completes homework assignments and projects.
If the other parent is not following remote learning requirements, you should take the following steps to address the situation:
- Be Transparent to Avoid Issues: It is important to be transparent with the other parent about your work conditions, your ability to support your child’s remote working, including providing the necessary technology, and the status of your health, so that both parents can assure that they are meeting the remote learning requirements of your child’s school before issues arise.
- Resolve Disputes in Private: If you suspect or know the other parent is not complying with the school’s rules, remember that it is very important to never disparage the other parent in front of the child. While it may be hard to find privacy while being quarantined, having an argument in front of the child will not help the situation.
- Mitigate Any Damage: If you learn that the other parent is not providing adequate support or supervision, check in with your child, provide remote support from your home, and be readily available to your child. Make sure that both households provide the necessary technology for your child to work remotely and obtain additional equipment from the child’s school if necessary.
- Seek Help from Your Attorney: Studies show that poor home learning environments have negative impacts on child development. Therefore, if you have taken the above steps and the other parent is still refusing to facilitate your child’s remote learning, you should contact your lawyer for assistance, as this situation warrants legal intervention.