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Online public schools experiencing routine in this unprecedented time (opinion)

By ThisIsReno

Submitted by Jay Schuler

This week This is Reno published a story entitled “COVID-19: Education becomes another victim of coronavirus.”  As a parent of children who have attended an online public charter school, I want to share with you that the more than 2,500 students enrolled in a virtual education are experiencing routine with respect to their education during this unprecedented time. 

For many students in Washoe County, Zoom classes and education packets aren’t meeting their educational expectations or needs. Inconsistencies, including language and socio-economic barriers, are abundant across the school district that serves more than 64,000 students. 

But, for students who attend online public charter schools, it’s business as usual. My daughter is attending all classes and her education has not changed in any way with the disruption of the Coronavirus. At a time when many families are having to find a new normal, our daily routine is much of the same. 

For virtual public charter school’s students, the day is similar to those in a bricks and mortar environment. Students are partnered with teachers who meet with them daily and help track their progress and excel at their own pace.  While they may log-on to their classroom, they participate in roll call, Pledge of Allegiance, art, P.E. and group outings (sans the Coronavirus) and projects.

The struggle is real for school districts statewide who are determining how to reach each student who may or may not have access to an online portal. Teachers have been challenged with teaching to students who have never attended online classes and parents will make major adjustments to their routines of classrooms being held in their homes. 

As Nevada school districts tackle issues of attendance, instruction and equity of access to technology, our diploma-granting online public charter schools will operate as they have for more than 10 years. 

Online public charter schools are often the target of unfair criticism, even as students graduate and move on to college. More than half of the states in the U.S. now have statewide online public schools.  Technology makes this possible. Academic standards for online schools are just as high as those in public schools.  Our teachers are state-certified, and state education officials rigorously monitor student academic progress.

As our Governor and school leaders navigate these waters, I encourage them to provide the leadership Nevada families have been starving for and continue improving upon new, modern education models. 

My three children have been educated through the Nevada Virtual Academies, an online tuition-free public charter school offered throughout the state.  Online learning broke down the walls of traditional schooling to allow for a strong education foundation that they had previously lacked. NVVA has unlocked countless possibilities for my children and so many other families.

We are thankful to have the option of an online education which allows some normalcy at a difficult time. In fact, we are currently picking classes for next year and planning for the future.  

Jay Schuler is a board director of National Coalition of Public School Options. He and his family reside in Reno.   

Submitted opinions do not represent the views of ThisisReno. Have something to say? Submit an opinion article here.

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