Bullying, school threats have more students going to school online

2,000 students enrolled in Virginia Virtual Academy

LYNCHBURG – More families are turning to online school to protect their children from bullying and threats on campus, like school shootings. One Lynchburg family fears for their daughter's safety, so she goes to school online.

Daniela Harrison is a bubbly, happy fourth-grader who loves history but she is also very aware of what happens across the country.

"This world isn't a bunch of cupcakes and rainbows. It has its downs too," she said.

Her mom, Ruth Harrison, says she knows about school shootings and threats. Daniela stays home  going to school online.

"I feel very safe here. I don't have to think about the bad things that happen," said Daniela.

The Harrisons tried a traditional school when Daniela was in kindergarten, but that lasted about a month.

"She was having difficulty being in the classroom, with bullying and that type of stuff. We just decided that's not a healthy environment in her situation," said Ruth who says her daughter has been taking classes through the Virginia Virtual Academy since first grade. "It's rigorous, it's very challenging, but the curriculum is very engaging."

Suzanne Sloane is the Head of School for Virginia Virtual Academy, what would be a superintendent in a school system. They have a record enrollment of about 2,000 students this year and they're seeing more families turning online because of safety concerns and bullying.

"They're concerned about safety. Unfortunately we've had some incidents in schools in Virginia and across the nation that have really made them nervous about sending their kids off on the bus every day, going into the building and being concerned about what might happen," said Sloane.

The Harrison's older son goes to high school in Lynchburg because he wanted to and Daniela can make that same decision but their mom worries every day.

"It is upsetting when you hear about school shootings or attempted school shootings. It is very stressful. Every morning when Isaiah goes to school, I just get this thing in my stomach and pray that he'll come back home safe and sound. I tell my son to watch his surroundings, to be wise, to be safe, to be OK," said Ruth.

The family says if Daniela eventually wants to go to school she can, but when we asked her she said she's happy staying at home for now.

The students still have to take SOLs at the end of the school year.

An adult must be at home with the students every day to supervise their work and help them log into classes.

Sloane says it's a good option for students missing a lot of school because of medical treatments, special sports training and special needs.

If you are interested in online school, you can find out more in this link.


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