Three years ago, Dave and Shannon Miranda did something radical. They took their son Johnny, now 11, out of his public school in Lexington and began home schooling him.

“And there were a lot of different reactions we got from parents varying from head-scratching to...” recalled Dave Miranda, before pausing.

“Disapproval,” said Shannon Miranda, finishing his thought.

“Disapproval and, yeah, judgement,” he agreed.

But lately, other parents are expressing something else: curiosity. When Shannon Miranda posted tips for home schooling on Facebook recently, 300 people responded.

“There’s a lot of general talk about, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m concerned about the virus. I need to find a different option,’” she said.

A new WGBH News poll found that there’s deep concern about the risk of sending kids back to school this fall. While 43.6% of respondents indicated they believe schools can reopen safely, 46% expressed doubt that schools can reopen in a way that will keep most kids and adults safe from the coronavirus.

The Massachusetts Department of Education has indicated that in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 teachers and students will need to wear masks, social distancing will be required and there will likely be a combination of virtual and in-person learning. The changes — and uncertainty — are leading a growing number of families to reach out to the home schooling community.

“I think everyone is rethinking things and I find that exciting,” said Cindy Turner, a longtime home schooling advocate who runs the statewide Massachusetts Home Schooling Connection Facebook group. In just the past few weeks she said 500 new people have joined the group. There’s also growing interest she said in virtual training for would-be home schooling parents.

“They're reacting to Covid,” she said, “but at the same time they’re really delving into ‘what do I want my goals to be for my child’s education?’”

Awbree Caton is one of the people asking that question, and wondering if schools will be able to deliver what they did before the pandemic. Her family moved to Holliston because of the schools where her nine year old daughter, Paige, has been part of an immersion program since kindergarten and is now fluent in French.

“I really feel conflicted. I want her to be part of the school system,” she said.

A year ago Caton began home schooling Paige’s older brother, Austin, because she felt he needed more one on one attention. Now, with so much up in the air, she’s considering pulling Paige out of school, too. She worries remote learning will mean too much screen time and time at school will come with too many restrictions.

“It’s just going to rob the joy out of it. She’s not going to be able to touch her friends, they’re not going to be able to share anything.

And then for it to be unstable, if she’s only there part time or only two days a week,” said Caton. “is that going to be disruptive?”

Of course home schooling’s not for everyone, but Shannon Miranda said it typically entails more than the virtual meetings and online assignments that characterized many remote learning experiences when schools shut down.

“What’s happening is people are experiencing crisis schooling and it’s not real home schooling,” said Miranda.

Home schooling can take many forms, but a hallmark she said is flexibility in deciding what and how to learn. It’s something her son has come to appreciate.

“Homeschooling, I kind of feel I can do a bit more what I want rather than teachers are like ‘do this, this, this and then after that, this, lunch for like, 10 seconds, do this’,” said Johnny Miranda, adding that with home schooling he can always do something different.

That school, in whatever form it takes, will be different next fall seems to be one thing children and their parents can be sure to expect.