SC virtual schools serve students with critical needs

SC virtual schools serve students with critical needs
July 02 09:26 2017 Print This Article

There are four online or virtual charter schools in South Carolina. They include South Carolina Virtual Charter School, South Carolina Connections Academy, and Cyber Academy of South Carolina for grades k-12, and Virtual South Carolina for grades 7-12 and adult education.   The largest of these is the SC Virtual Charter School with an enrollment of about 3400 students.

Virtual schools meet the needs of students for a variety of reasons. One is students who are bullied in the traditional public schools and don’t feel safe. Statistics show that 30% of children ages 6 through 10 have been bullied. Students who have been physically abused, verbally abused, or emotionally abused seek the safety of virtual education.

Virtual schools also provide schooling for students who have chronic illnesses. In the traditional public school, a chronically ill student receives homebound instruction. Typically, a homebound teacher will collect assignments from the student’s teachers and provide about 5 hours of instruction a week. The student is expected to complete most of the assignments on their own. Five hours of instruction a week can’t compare with the 30 hours provided from a virtual school which provides teaching in real time with 50 minute classes and allows students to replay classes on video, if needed.

A third type of student, benefiting from virtual schools is the student who is pursuing a career in sports such as tennis, swimming, or gymnastics. These students practice hours a day and need the flexible schedule provided by a virtual school where classes can be replayed. Students heavily involved in acting and music pursuits also fit that category.

Students and parents need to realize that the parent plays a much larger role in a virtual school education than they do in brick and mortar schools. The parents need to be learning coaches and monitor assignments. If a parent can’t fill this role, virtual schooling is probably not going to be successful. Virtual education is a three-legged stool with the parent, student, and school having vital roles in the process.
Students who are not doing well in a traditional public school and think the virtual school provides an easier alternative are in for a rude awakening.

If a parent is working and unavailable to monitor a student, churches and libraries may be able to provide space and supervision for students seeking a virtual school education. In neighborhoods with failing public schools, this may be an answer for parents seeking an alternative.

The SC Virtual Charter School had 260 students graduate this year earning $3.5 million in scholarships. 78% of students went to technical schools or college, 6 – 7% went into the military, and 10% went into the work force. The SC Virtual School provides a ratio of 200 students per guidance counselor which is lower than the ratio at a brick and mortar school. Students also participate in clubs such as Foreign Language Club and Honor Society. 62% of the students are high poverty, receive free or reduced lunch, and are provided a free computer. Principal Cherry Daniel of the SC Virtual Charter School notes that the value of a virtual school is “the many lives we touch, the lives we turn around, and the lives we save.”