WINNIPEG -- With many Manitoba parents anxious about sending their kids back to school during the pandemic, interest is growing in homeschooling.

Dozens of people gathered Monday night on the lawn of a church in Transcona to learn more about how to juggle parenting and teaching.

Veteran homeschooler Patricia Sawicki led the lesson at Monday’s event. She has eight children and 12 years experience teaching from home.

“On Facebook I’m noticing lots of questions about new potential homeschoolers,” she said.

One of those new homeschoolers is father of three Rob Vigini, who is now trying to balance his career with teaching.

“We’re doing two-fold, teaching and working, it’s going to be tough,” he said.

He said there will be growing pains in September, but it’s worth the sacrifice.

“Fortunately for us I work from home, my wife is a stay-at-home and she works from home as well, so we have the opportunity to teach them from home so it works for us,” Vigini said.

He isn’t satisfied with the province’s back-to-school plan, which includes mandatory masks for students in Grades 4 to 12.

But remote learning is an option for some students, based on the advice of a doctor.

“It’s mind boggling to me,” said Joanna Black, a University of Manitoba education professor.

She said remote learning should be available to everyone.

“There are students who really benefit highly from online learning,” Black said.

“Not to have that option means that we’re not going to decrease the population in schools and not offer that as an opportunity for parents.”

Parents who choose homeschooling receive no funding from the province to cover supplies like textbooks.

But, one plus side of the pandemic though is that there is a wealth of teaching material online.

“Every single museum and online resource has started giving their things for free,” said homeschooler Michelle Gregorashuk.

The province said last year, more than 3,600 parents homeschooled their children.