KS online public schools see uptick in enrollment due to COVID

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 9:06 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Two online public schools in Kansas are seeing an increase in enrollment since the pandemic began.

Kansas Virtual Academy (KSVA) is a fully online, tuition-free public school for Kindergarten through 6th graders. In 2020, their numbers grew by about 500% and this year, nearly 300%.

Insight School of Kansas (ISKS) serves their 7th through 12th-grade students. While its enrollment did not see quite as big of a jump, it still rose by 50% last year and 10% this year.

Cassandra Barton, Head of School, said the pandemic forced schools across the country into online learning, but that was not a new concept for them.

“We had all of our systems and platforms in place already,” Barton continued saying, “Our staff had been trained on them and are experts at engaging students in a virtual setting.”

For those reasons, she said it did not disrupt their school year.

“We did not have the disruptions to our schedules, we didn’t have to worry about students being quarantined and having to stay home from school, and so we are seeing them just continuing to grow, learn, and go at the pace they should be,” Barton added.

However, she said the pandemic did mainly fuel that uptick in enrollment numbers at KSVA and ISKS.

“Our enrollment does continue to be higher for our virtual schools than it was pre-covid,” Barton said. “Each family comes with a different story and their reasons are different, but a lot of them are pertaining to some aspect of the pandemic.”

She said more recently the Delta variant, the covid vaccine not being available for children under 12, and some districts not requiring masks are families’ biggest concerns.

“There are some families that are just looking for something temporary until they are able to be fully vaccinated, have their kids fully vaccinated, and get them back in a building,” Barton continued saying, “What we learned last year was a lot of families came and tried us out without a lot of background information and really liked how it fit into their family dynamic. They have then continued to stay with us.”

For those that may question the effectiveness of online learning, Barton said it always depends on the student.

“I will always advocate, you’ve gotta figure out what works best for your student, but a lot of our students and families find that there are often fewer distractions when they are schooling from home in a virtual school. So, that allows them to spend more time and focus on the content.”

She also added, “Our staff, students, and parents always report that they find the relationships can be even stronger. We encourage our kiddos to speak up, pick up the phone and call your teacher if you have a question on your math homework, and when they do that and they see that we are all partnering together as a team to support them, they build those stronger relationships where they might not get the time to do that in a brick and mortar building going class to class.”

Barton said their curriculum also has a strong focus on setting students up for the future.

“They’re learning to set a schedule that works for them to be most productive, how to advocate for themselves when they have a question or need support, they’ve learned how to stay connected even though everything’s completely virtual,” she continued saying, “We’re going to see that translate, especially as we’re seeing that increase in jobs in the workforce moving to a virtual option in some realms. That’s going to be I think an advantage for our students because they know how to operate in that world.”

Enrollment is still open for both schools. For more information or to enroll your child, visit their website.

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