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Ky. school districts begin virtual programs; they’re seeing waitlists

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) - As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, parents are looking into virtual school options. Some districts gave the option at the beginning of the year, while others are just now starting a program.

In Greenup County, a virtual option was offered since the start of the year, but staffing shortages are capping it at 250 students.

“It’s very hard for me to say no because I sympathize with their situations,” said Amanda Powell, the director of the virtual program at Greenup County Schools. “It’s not that I’m not sympathetic and I don’t understand where they are coming from. It’s just I can’t sacrifice the education of the students that are already in the program by overloading the teachers.”

A virtual option was also offered last school year. In December, 900 kids were enrolled, but loose guidelines made the program unsuccessful.

“At the time I took over 72% of them were failing and not just kind of failing like really failing badly,” Powell said.

This year, changes were made to make sure students are not slipping through the cracks, but the lack of teachers for the program has created a waiting list.

“It’s better quality than what students would have received last year, but you can’t have as many kids in the program and that’s kind of the downside,” Powell said. “I don’t foresee us adding more teachers simply because it’s really difficult to find them.”

At Ashland Independent Schools, the district is adding a virtual option -- five weeks into the school year.

Superintendent Sean Howard says the decision comes after an uptick in COVID cases.

“It got to the point where we closed down for a total of six instructional days,” Howard said. “During that time, we made the decision that we would go ahead with providing the virtual option for those kids and those families that were interested.”

Howard says when the school year ended last year, the focus was to keep kids learning in-person, as he says it’s the best way for kids to learn. After closing school, the district sees the need and demand for a virtual option.

“We certainly expect to have more in-person than we have online, but again we won’t know that for sure until tomorrow afternoon,” Howard said.

Enrollment for Ashland Independent Schools virtual option is open until 4 p.m. Wednesday. Students begin virtual learning on Sept. 20. Once a student commits to the program they cannot exit until Dec. 17.

“Of course any student that’s in-person can choose to go the virtual route at any time,, but once you commit to the virtual option you’re committing until the end of the first semester,” Howard said.

Howard says the spots for the program are unlimited. Instruction will not be live but through online programs.

“What this entails will be probably more parental involvement than what was required last year,” Howard said.

To enroll, click here.

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