Virginia families looking into alternative school plans instead of in-person

Three options if you don’t want your student going into a classroom

ROANOKE, Va. – With COVID-19 concerns increasing again and the mask debate in schools, some families are looking for other schooling options that don’t include learning in person. We’re working for you on what’s available.

Option 1: Local school district online option

Check with your local school district, as some are still allowing you to enroll in online classes.

Each school system has a different deadline, but for many of them, you have to meet certain requirements.

Bedford County says they have about 90 students enrolled in Virtual Virginia, the platform they’re using this year.

“Because the mask policy just changed, we are working to establish protocols for the future,” said a school spokesperson. “Virtual Virginia is currently closed to enrollment. Our principals are working to collect information from students who wish to come back for in-person instruction, and those who now wish to be enrolled virtually. Right now it’s a fluid situation that we are working to address.”

Botetourt County says they’ve seen an increase in online enrollment requests since last week when the governor said masks would need to be worn in schools to follow Virginia law. They have 80 students so far and are accepting applications through August 11, or until slots are filled.

Roanoke County posted on its Facebook page Friday, “Options for students wanting full-time, online instruction will also be expanded in grades K-8 to include an option for students who request online learning but do not have COVID-related medical documentation as previously required. To provide these expanded options, RCPS will use a variety of instructional delivery methods in addition to Virtual Virginia, and staff is working to make these arrangements. If your child is already on a waiting list for online learning, you will be contacted as soon as arrangements are finalized as soon after August 12 as is possible. If your child is not on a waiting list already and you would like to use these expanded online options, please contact your child’s school to be put on the list, by end of day on Tuesday, August 10.”

Option 2: Virginia Virtual Academy

The Virginia Virtual Academy, powered by Stride K12, is tuition-free and you still have time to enroll. There are a limited number of available seats for students and they are filling up fast.

Students that are residents of Bland, Bristol, Giles, Norton, Patrick, Radford City, Tazewell and Washington should reach out to their district directly to enroll into VAVA.

Families residing in Stafford (grades K-5) and Botetourt are district-managed, Learning Solutions partners. Parents may enroll their student into Stafford/Botetourt Virtual Academies by calling the district.

A spokesperson for Stride K12 says national enrollment went from about 123,000 before the pandemic in the 2019-2020 school year to about 189,000 last school year. They say the percentage of families who are currently enrolled that indicated they are returning is at a multi-year high.

“So far, we are seeing the opposite of the mass exodus back to brick-and-mortar schools that some have predicted,” said a Stride K12 spokesperson.

To enroll: You apply, you’re admitted and then you are no longer enrolled at your brick-and-mortar school.

You can find the story we did last year on VAVA here, where we break down what the process looks like.

Option 3: Homeschool

Parents, you still have time to decide to homeschool.

Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) is a nonprofit to help homeschool families. According to HEAV, a parent must submit a Notice of Intent or personal letter to the division superintendent by August 15 each year you provide home instruction. The group suggests using the notice on their website because it only has what the law requires and other forms ask for things you don’t have to disclose.

There are many resources on the HEAV’s webpage and you can check out the WSLS 10 News story from last year on homeschooling where we broke down the process including how to pick a curriculum. Find that story here.

The GRHE (Greater Roanoke Home Educators) is a parent support group that helps get information out to homeschooling parents about all the different options of co-ops, opportunities & events geared for Roanoke & surrounding area homeschoolers to know about. You can check out the Facebook page here and the website here.

About the Author

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.

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