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New Braunfels family weighs health risk, plans to homeschool this fall

The couple is asking friends who homeschool about curriculum and schedule options. They’ll also see if online learning through Comal ISD could be a good fit.

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — It’s unclear what the first day of school will look like this fall, but Governor Greg Abbott said students can return to classrooms.

The Texas Education Agency is expected to provide guidance to school districts next week.

A New Braunfels family has already decided to keep their kids home this fall.

The Risners have three students who previously attended Goodwin Frazier Elementary School. Like millions of other children, they adapted to online learning for the last chunk of the school year.

Dad, Gary Risner, said the past few months were a free trial in homeschooling.

Credit: Gary Risner
New Braunfels family weighs health risk, plans to homeschool this Fall

Mom, Christina Lee, said the experience was trial and error.

“I didn't have the answer key or know what they were learning at school,” said Christina Lee Risner. “They just kind of expected the students to know what they were supposed to be doing.”

Looking ahead to the fall, the Risners have been keeping up with info from the CDC, Governor Abbott and Comal ISD. While the school district plans to update parents on policies in July, the Risners have already made a big decision.

“We have a lot of concerns based on the guidelines that the children are going to be somewhat isolated in their classrooms,” said Gary Risner.

The couple decided they’ll homeschool their school-aged children this fall. The biggest factor in the decision was health.

“Having an infant at home, we're really concerned about the risk of them coming home with more sickness,” said Gary. “As you've seen, the spread is starting to peak here.”

Their 6-month-old spent 11 days in the NICU battling RSV as a newborn, so the Risners are worried the baby wouldn’t fare well through another respiratory-attacking illness.

Gary and Christina Lee are asking friends who homeschool about curriculum and schedule options. They’ll also see if online-learning through Comal ISD could be a good fit. While their family prepares to stay home, Gary said he knows that for some of their neighbors, the right choice will be sending their kids back to class.

“I think it's a personal choice. Some folks have work schedules that won't allow it. It's definitely a new challenge for us, changing work schedules and making some sacrifices,” Gary said. “I think this will be a great opportunity for our family to grow and come together and get closer.”

RELATED: Texas students will return to school campuses this fall, Gov. Greg Abbott tells lawmakers