FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) -- Fort Wayne Community Schools is offering a virtual option for the 2021-2022 school year.
It will be its own entity, called Fort Wayne Virtual Academy, and will be separate from other schools in the district.
Fort Wayne Education Association President Sandra Vohs supports the new online school.
“I think this is a good idea for the district because they’re trying to anticipate meeting a need of our community,” she said.
That need is virtual learning for some students, whether it’s for health and safety reasons or otherwise.
Fort Wayne Community Schools Public Information Officer Krista Stockman said 12% of parents surveyed in the district wanted to have a virtual option next year.
“[Some] students realized, hey when they’re at home and they’re learning remotely, that’s actually a better learning environment for them and they really thrive in that environment,” Stockman said.
Vohs says parents should have confidence in the school district’s virtual option versus other online-only schooling.
“You already have [a] curriculum, and you have a basic level of quality you can expect,” Vohs said.
But there’s a catch to online school.
Students won’t be able to participate in extracurricular activities.
“It would cause all kinds of bizarre issues,” Vohs said. “If you’re a virtual kid, what, you get to pick and choose which school you go to to be on a team? It just doesn’t make any sense.”
What does make sense is having the option to learn at home because in-school learning is not for everyone.
“As a parent, I know that I am really happy when remote school goes away, because I want my kids out of the house and in school,” Vohs said.
Stockman said the next step is finding teachers willing to do virtual-only learning, a step back from balancing both in-person and online students.
The end goal, she said, is to best meet the needs of the students.
“If this is what they need, we want to be able to offer it to them so that they can be successful,” Stockman said.
Course selection will also be limited for online schooling.
For those interested in virtual school next year, FWCS is opening a lottery online from June 1-18.
After the final count of students, the district will determine how many teachers it needs to teach virtually.