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Botetourt County launching new virtual school option, even after pandemic is over

Some students are thriving in online school environments

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Some kids and families are finding they prefer going to school online. It’s a trend that more local school districts are picking up on and it means more options for families.

Some kids hate online school, but some kids are loving it. They can work at their own pace, have more family time and don’t have to deal with other students in the classroom.

Botetourt County is launching a virtual academy in fall 2021 that will continue even when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

“It’s an opportunity, sort of a silver lining in what can be seen as sort of a gloomy time,” said Leah Stephenson, the Coordinator of Virtual Learning and Technology at Botetourt County Public Schools who presented updates to the school board this month. “We have all had to make changes in the way that we teach, and for students in the way that we learn. Some of this has been forced upon us but during this time it’s also allowed us to have the ability to grow and change.”

Stephenson says some students are thriving.

“It’s also giving us a chance to allow a choice for schooling in Botetourt so that students can decide whether they would like to attend in a physical brick in mortar building or whether they would prefer a virtual environment. It’s allowing us to expand what we can offer and get our students ready for the future,” said Stephenson.

How do you know if it’s right for your family? There are some simple questions that are part of a readiness tool to decide if this might be a good fit for students.

  • You’re comfortable with less in-person time with other students
  • You can set goals for yourself
  • You stay focused on using the internet for learning

The self-assessment comes back as not a good candidate, Stephenson says you can talk with a counselor or staff member to see if there are things students can do to make them a better fit for virtual learning.

Parents will get an interest survey Monday, Jan. 18 along with more information so Botetourt County can figure out how many people are interested and start planning.

That’s due Feb. 1 and in March, families will have to make a final decision and commitment.


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