Ottawa West Virtual Academy nearly doubled planned enrollment


OTTAWA COUNTY, Michigan – The West Ottawa Public School District is already enjoying success with its new virtual academy.

This fall is the first year, and the district is already anticipating even more registrations next semester.

“I think we knew there would be a need for this; we just didn’t know how many, ”said Elaine Stiefel, Director of Virtual Learning for West Ottawa Public Schools.

The program has nearly doubled its scheduled online enrollments for this semester. The district thought there would be around 50 students, but now there are 90.

“I think there will always be a need for this,” Stiefel said. “We’re always going to have students who have, you know, family situations where there are medical situations at home, and being in a school environment may not be the best for them. “

Some students loved last year’s flexibility with virtual, while others have compromised immune systems and want to stay home.

They also enroll homeschoolers looking for different alternatives for elective courses.

They ask that when you sign up you stay with the program for a while.

“So for elementary, we’re asking for a one-year commitment,” Stiefel said. “It’s because of the staffing, which isn’t as flexible taking a teacher straight out of a classroom for a full year for a virtual executive. For our high school students, it’s a semester engagement, so they sign up at the start of the semester, then at the end of the year – they can choose to go back face-to-face or they can go virtual, so we have this flexibility for grades 6-12 for that.

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The K-12 program is a virtual option for anyone in any district in Ottawa County. Even children from neighboring counties can register.

Online primary teachers are full time while others have hybrid options ranging from virtual education to in-person instruction.

Online courses have an average of 10 students each.

Not only does this give children and their families more learning options, but they don’t miss out on extracurricular activities if they want to be part of a group or play sports.

“We can’t replicate that as authentically in an online environment as we do face to face,” Stiefel said, “so they take some of their classes online, but then show up to our high school or college for. take those other electives that like a band or music.

The district is planning more options for virtual students as the number of enrollments increases.

Ceramics, chemistry labs, and other similar courses really only work in person, giving students and families more decisions and flexibility regarding the future of their education.

“It gives our high school and college students a college level framework,” she said. “So we have a teacher that they will meet once a week, so it’s not just yourself, so they meet once a week with this teacher and have a live session and they are also working on that. Classes. . “

If you know anyone who would like to join the program or learn more, Click here.

RELATED: Interest in Online Schools Growing as Pandemic Continues

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