Wake County Schools

In 4 days, 30K Wake students apply for 'virtual academy'

Posted July 13, 2020 6:26 p.m. EDT
Updated July 15, 2020 4:50 p.m. EDT

— In just four days, almost 20% of the students in Wake County – 30,000 of the average enrollment of about 162,000 – have applied for consideration in the planned Virtual Academy, the district's answer to remote learning amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Applications are pretty well split across grades K-10, with fewer high school juniors and seniors showing interest in remote-only learning.

The Virtual Academy will provide all core classes online for students as an option for those at higher risk for coronavirus infection or whose parents don't feel comfortable sending them back to school yet.

Wake County will use those application numbers to determine how many students are interested and how many teachers will be needed.

Superintendent Cathy Moore said on Friday that the district does not have a cap the number of students who can apply.

On top of the online learning school, the district has established other plans in accordance with guidance from the state to limit the number of students at school to slow the spread of coronavirus. Each district in the state is required to create three plans for reopening. The governor will enact one of those three plans ahead of the first day of school.

Wake County has leaned toward a middle road – offering a plan to divide students into three groups that would each rotate through one week of class at school and two weeks of online learning.

Whether parents indicate a preference for the Virtual Academy or the regular classroom will dictate how teachers and administrators must position themselves to pull it all off, Moore said.

Applications for the Virtual Academy went live Friday and are open until July 20. Families that apply commit to at least one semester in the academy and can return to regular classroom instruction next spring only "if space permits."

"Once we know the number of students who wish to attend the academy, we can better determine class sizes, schedules and child care needs for those attending our schools in person," school board Chairman Keith Sutton said.

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