The number of students being homeschooled in the Cayman Islands this year increased by 33% compared to the 2019/2020 school year.
The 136 students form the largest group of homeschoolers since at least 2017/18, according to data provided by the Department of Education Standards.
The number of homeschoolers is small compared to the general student population, and the homeschooling numbers can vary widely from year to year.
Thousands of the country’s parents became well-acquainted with — not outright ‘homeschooling’ — but virtual learning from home when Cayman’s public and private schools closed due to COVID-19 precautions starting from mid-March through the end of the spring semester.
In addition to lingering fears over the ongoing global pandemic, many households in Cayman have seen significant declines in income due to the economic crisis brought about by COVID and Cayman’s closed borders.
Jamie McLaughlin, administrator of the Facebook group Cayman Homeschoolers, said, “We have 313 people in our Homeschool Facebook group. We have seen a jump in numbers this year due to COVID.”
She said, “In the past year, we would have about 25 to 30 kids interested in attending the field trips that I organized. I believe that the influx in numbers is highly related to COVID.”
Even with this year’s increase, the 136 homeschoolers only comprise about 1.6% of Cayman’s student population, compared to the 8,241 students attending public and private school, according to Cayman’s 2019 Education Data Report.
For context, in the US between 3-4% of students attend homeschools, and in the UK fewer than 1%.
The education department noted that of the 136 homeschoolers, 72 were first-time applicants. Of the first-time applicants, 13 previously attended public school and 59 attended private school.