WINNIPEG -- The number of Manitobans who have registered for homeschooling this year has nearly doubled compared to previous years and that is thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Manitoba’s homeschooling association says.

More than 7,370 Manitoba students have registered for home school as of Oct. 9, according to the province. This is a significant jump from the 5,768 students registered for home school in mid-September, and nearly double what Manitoba has seen in previous years.

During the 2019/20 school year, 3,689 students were registered for homeschooling.

“I really do think that this number rise is absolutely related entirely to the pandemic and the rising number (of cases),” said Jennifer Gehman, an online liaison for the Manitoba Association for Schooling at Home (MASH).

“I think there is a lot of fear, and certainly as Manitoba is moving into a more critical time in our second wave, I think that a lot of parents are struggling with the safest thing to do for their children.”

Gehman said she has heard from parents who started the year with their children in public school, but as cases rise and exposures continue to pop up in classrooms, some opted for homeschooling.

She said MASH started gaining numbers back in August and for the past two months has been preparing to equip parents who are stepping into the role of teacher for the first time.

Gehman said MASH has never had as many parents needing as much support as they do right now.

“We are seeing parents who are starting to feel the difficulties that come when you are with your kids all day and you are suddenly responsible not just for the regular old fashioned parenting, but you feel this heavy weight of being responsible for their education,” she said.

While Gehman said, there are difficulties with homeschooling, she believes many parents will also see the benefits of schooling from home.

“I think that there will definitely be some parents who will find there is a lot of joy in this journey,” she said, adding when the pandemic is done she believes some parents will keep going with the home school system.

“I think those people who maybe wouldn’t have actually jumped into the deep end but had too, I think they are going to enjoy it and try to figure out how to make that work long term.”

She said she also knows many parents will send their kids back to the classrooms when life returns to some level as normal, as that is what benefits their children and family the most.