In a normal week, Parr fields about five or six phone calls. But in recent weeks, he said he’s been answering easily 70 calls a week from across the region, including many from Madison.
Parr said he could see the online school’s enrollment, which was about 150 full-time students this year and a similar number part-time, double in the fall — if not grow by more.
When in-person classes were canceled in mid-March to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Parr said districts tried their best to transition students to digital learning. But he’s heard from parents about mixed results.
“The No. 1 complaint I hear is, ‘I don’t want to go back to what we were doing,’” Parr said. “I feel for those districts, because that kind of got sprung on them.”
For nearly two decades, virtual charter schools have been an option for Wisconsin students, acting as an outlet for students being severely bullied, children with health problems, expelled students and others seeking flexibility or a different learning environment.
But COVID-19 is a new cause for families to seek the safety of learning remotely as the public health crisis wraps the future of traditional schooling in unknowns.
Enrollment in virtual charters grew steadily in the past five years, with 8,696 students educated in 48 schools this school year — an all-time high on both counts. Four virtual charter schools enrolled 265 students during the 2002-03 academic year, when the model first emerged.
I wonder how the taxpayer supported Madison School District’s “infinite campus” online usage looks today, from the teacher, staff, student and parent perspective?