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JOHNSTON, Iowa — This week kids across the metro are back in school, but not all returned to the classroom.

The Iowa Department of Education reports there’s been a 23% increase in families enrolling in homeschool assistance programs. Waukee parent of three, Jill Swanson, recently made the transition for safety reasons.

“We saw COVID-19 cases rising and we watched what was happening in southern states, that went back in early August. They were having all kinds of problems,” Swanson said. “And then with the mask mandate ban, we weren’t going to get notifications, no contact tracing, full classrooms, no masks. We just didn’t feel comfortable with some of them going back.” 

Johnston has had an HSAP for more than 20 years. 

According to the Executive Director of Johnston Student Services, Joy Wiebers, the home school liaison is a teacher that serves as a connection between the district and families and provides parents with homeschooling resources, and assists with learning plans. 

Parents are free to communicate with the liaison anytime throughout the year but they are required to meet at least once a quarter.

Students in HSAP can also take part in the district’s extracurricular activities. 

“Ensuring that if they want to come back, that they feel that connection still to the Johnston Community School District. That they’re not out there on their own,” Wiebers said. “We want to support families where they are and help them along the way. And if that means right now, they don’t feel comfortable coming to school, we want to still be connected with them.”