Students are choosing virtual learning for the fall semester

Parents and students choosing alternatives to the traditional classroom.
Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 9:22 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2021 at 5:14 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Midway through the summer, and the fall semester is right around the corner. The upcoming school year holds in-person classes for most students, but some students are staying virtual.

The Wisconsin Connections Academy is an entirely virtual school for 4k-12 and well suited to helping kids move into virtual learning last year when the pandemic forced everyone to change the education landscape.

Enrollment for the school doubled, from 600 students to over 1,200 last year. And many students are returning to the academy, despite the return of in-person learning across the state. The WCA is expanding the staff and extending the enrollment period into the summer to meet demand.

“A lot of families found it was an environment that worked best for their student,” said principal Michelle Mueller. “So even though we are moving forward and hopefully away from this pandemic, a lot of families have decided to remain with us.”

For many students, the flexible schedule is a huge factor in returning. Cally Ehle’s two daughters are returning to WCA instead of going back to in-person classes in Stoughton, and she says the school day works around her daughter’s schedules, not the other way around.

“My older daughter wouldn’t get done with all her lessons for the day, so she would go to swim, and she would work on it at like seven at night,” said Ehle. “Or there would be times where she would work ahead on classes, not because she needed to, just because she wanted to.”

Places like WCA also offer ways to socialize with the entire community of students attending. Virtual chats and field trips give students a chance to socialize outside of classes. And the academy is adding a mentoring program for more social opportunities.

“We’re actually going to be starting a mentoring program, where our new students coming in are being assigned a mentor, an existing student who has been successful at WCA, said Jill Peachy, a high school teacher at WCA.

Several school districts in the Madison area were contacted by NBC 15, for comment on so many parents and students choosing alternative options for education, like the Wisconsin Connections Academy.

Superintendent Dr. Dana E. Monogue of the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District commented:

“Through the pandemic, some students realized that virtual classes better fit their learning styles and preferences. We are offering a fully virtual program for a small number of students whose families have requested it for the 2021-2022 school year. As we know, some in our community are still nervous about the pandemic. I am sure that virtual schools across the nation and our state are seeing an increase in enrollment as this is an attractive option for some.”

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