Schools that offer enrollment services to help homeschoolers comply with state compulsory attendance laws are frequently referred to as umbrella schools, independent schools, cover schools, hybrid schools, and church schools. (For simplicity, we'll refer to this type of school as a cover school.) In some states, parents are required to enroll their children in a cover school as a requisite to homeschooling. In some states, parents have the option of enrolling their children in a cover school in lieu of establishing a home education program with their state or district. In some states, each homeschool is considered a cover school. Yet, in some states, there is no provision (or need) for cover schools.
Many cover schools are established solely to help parents comply with their state's compulsory school attendance laws. In many cases, there is no physical school building. Instead, the schools are home-based, and students complete their coursework at home under the supervision of their parents and/or guardians. Some schools, however, are church-based or campus-based with extension or satellite programs that serve homeschoolers. Thus, you will find that schools offer various services, including classroom-based instruction, field trips, scholarships, report cards, diplomas, graduation ceremonies, and some even provide full curriculum and dual enrollment opportunities.
All cover schools are required by law to maintain certain personal records, which will vary depending on your state, so be prepared to provide personal information such as proof of your educational background and/or your children's age and certain health records. These schools may also be required to keep certain academic records, so you may need to, among other things, keep attendance, log curriculum, and/or have your children regularly evaluated or tested. Your record keeping and reporting requirements will vary by state and by school, so you will want to make sure you understand your state's laws and that the school you are considering will meet your child's educational needs.
To find out if your state has an umbrella school provision, see our Homeschool Laws section or consult your state's statutes. You'll also find a growing list of schools in our State Directory.
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