VANDERBURGH CO., Ind. (WFIE) - Less than one month until the first day of school for students with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, school leaders say they have around 550 students currently enrolled in the EVSC Virtual Academy, with hundreds more completing the final steps to enroll.
The choice to go virtual came easier for some families than others.
“It’s not an easy choice,” Wendy Bredhold, EVSC parent said. “And for some, it’s not a choice at all.”
Many wonder, what exactly will that online learning option look like?
This is actually the 10th year for the EVSC Virtual Academy, which offers a full-service, online education grades K-12.
Due to the already established nature of the program, EVSC Virtual Academy Director Staci Herrin says this is nothing new for her students.
“In March, when all the schools closed, our students just continued on with their business as usual,” Herrin said.
For all the new families, however, questioning what exactly this online learning will look like - it seems pretty simple.
Students do not need a back-to-school shopping list. They do not even need textbooks. They just need access to the internet on a computer.
“We don’t have books at the virtual academy that the students rent or anything like that,” Herrin said. “All of our lessons are pre-loaded. We used nationally recognized curriculum for all of our students, and then they can work anytime during the day. Additionally, all of our courses are aligned to EVSC curriculum guides and state standards, so that we are sure that our students are learning the same thing with us that they’d be learning at any of the traditional schools.”
For Jennifer Burgdorf, whose niece has been attending the EVSC Virtual Academy since January, the decision to go virtual was a no-brainer.
“I would say I am really all for it,” Burgdorf said. “They get their assignments. They do their assignments. If they have questions, they’re given notes on everything. They’re given pre-tests and examples. It’s really a nice way to learn things.”
There are no live instructions. Students work at their own pace during the day, but a full staff of licensed EVSC teachers are available to assist students and give feedback throughout the school day, via web meetings, phone calls and email.
Burgdorf recognizes that children do need social interaction, and for some families, they needed a little more time to decide.
“I am a little nervous, but we are going to do our best,” Bredhold said. “One thing I am still concerned about is my child’s ability to do school work while I am also working at my job.”
That’s why Herrin advises every student have a learning coach - a family member helping them through the school day.
“This isn’t something they should be doing independently,” Herrin said. “They do need that adult with them, working with them shoulder to shoulder, keeping them on track.”
“They really need a parent there, just working with them,” Burgdorf said.
Even though these families agree, the EVSC Virtual Academy may not be an option for everyone. Herrin hopes it will be helpful for some.
“It is the same thing you’d be learning in your traditional school,” Herrin said. “It’s just in a different format.”
“I just have a lot of empathy for everyone,” Bredhold said. “For the teachers, the principals, the administrators, certainly the parents and the kids.”
Click here to learn more about the EVSC Virtual Academy.