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Some Arizona School District Launching Virtual Schools To Continue Offering Remote Options

Published: Monday, June 14, 2021 - 5:15am
Updated: Saturday, June 19, 2021 - 10:20pm
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As students prepare to head back into the classroom this fall, school districts are discovering virtual learning is still in demand. In an effort to accommodate that demand, some Arizona districts are setting up new virtual schools for students and families who want to remain learning from home for health reasons or a desire for more flexibility, even as COVID-19 subsides 

→ Map: See How Enrollment At Arizona's 30 Largest School Districts Changed In Just One Year

Cartwright Elementary School District

The new Cartwright Virtual Academy has similar origins, but will work a little differently since it will be more dependent on pre-recorded lessons.

"They still have the option of having a morning meeting with a teacher, having small group instruction, one-on-one tutoring, teacher will reach out and stay in contact with the parent, but the big difference is that it’s more self-directed," said the district's Executive Director of School Leadership Patricia Lopez, adding that this will give Cartwright students greater flexibility. 

The districts say they initially saw large interest in their new virtual schools, but it has waned a bit as public health conditions have improved. Both districts will allow students who enroll in their virtual schools the option of returning to an in-person school during the academic year if they need to.

Chandler Unified School District

Chandler Unified  is offering in-person instruction for the fall semester with an online option for those who do not feel comfortable returning in person.

Litchfield Elementary School District

“I think now is a good time because of just having that year of the pandemic,” said Litchfield Superintendent Jodi Gunning. “I think it provided opportunities for both families as well as teachers to see which environment they thrived in.”

The new Litchfield Learning Academy will be very similar to the live remote instruction students received this past school year, Gunning said. Specials classes will also be offered, but those classes will likely be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning. 

“I think the main priority here was to be able to meet our families’ needs and our students’ needs and to offer as much choice and opportunity within our district as we possibly can,” she said. 

Mesa Public Schools

Three different options will be offered at Mesa Public Schools in the fall semester: a traditional in-person learning; Mesa Virtual Campus, an online synchronous learning program with teacher-led schooling; and a asynchronous learning where students can learn online at their own pace.

Paradise Valley School District

Paradise Valley School District has launched PV Connect, a five-day-a-week virtual classroom. If interest remains high, the system could remain for the long-term. 

“We think we will be able to offer this in some shape or form when all is said and done, because we think the interest is there, and students like the flexibility,” says Andre Long, the superintendent of Paradise Valley School District. 

Paradise Valley has long offered PV Online, but PV Connect will be the district’s first foray into full-time virtual learning. In the system, students will learn from a staff of teachers recruited from around the district. The staff will teach exclusively in a virtual setting, a departure from having to balance both in-person and online learning that occurred last year. 

Classes begin Aug. 5 for Paradise Valley School District. 

Peoria Unified School District

Peoria Unified is offering in-person instruction for the fall semester with an online option for those who do not feel comfortable returning in person. The governing board will meet in July to finalize details.

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