Thousands of families choose remote learning: How many this school year?

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Though most schools have reopened in-person classes, thousands of area families are instead taking advantage of a never-before-offered option of having their children learn remotely from home.

Mason Schools has more than a third of students now doing virtual learning from home rather than attend in-person classes. Officials there, like many other area districts, offered the option for families because of coronavirus precautions.

Among them is Mason parent Nathalie Neuburger, who has three children enrolled in the district’s at-home learning program.

“Overall, everything is very well-organized and the school communicates everything clearly. It was a hard decision to make with so many unknowns but we continue to be impressed with how the district is implementing this new online program,” Neuburger said.

Mason has the area’s highest percentage of its total district enrollment learning from home, at 35%.

Lakota Schools has a quarter of its students — about 4,000 — doing its virtual learning program, which differs in all districts from the “remote learning” all Ohio school systems scrambled to set up in March when state officials closed all K-12 schools at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Keith Koehne, Lakota executive director of curriculum and instruction, said that “it was important to us that we meet the needs of our families who would not want to send their children to school this fall.”

“Whether that reason is for health concerns or the student prefers to learn in a more self-paced online environment, our Virtual Learning Option allows our students to remain with Lakota, receive a Lakota education and be taught by a Lakota teacher,” said Koehne.

In general, the virtual learning option is a collection of online learning instructional lessons and its content and procedures vary in each district but all are tied into meeting the Ohio academic standards required to progress through each grade.

Remote learning usually involves a different set of digital instruction programs but with the same goal of advancing students toward achieving academic requirements should schools again be shuttered by state officials.

The catch for almost all families is in signing up for virtual learning, their children have to stay in that learning format for the first semester of the just-started school year. This stipulation allowed schools to properly allocate personnel – including some teachers who now only instruct online – and resources.

School officials created the virtual learning option so families, who were concerned about sending their children to in-person learning – even with numerous safety protocols for coronavirus prevention – could have another way to continue their children’s education.

“Our team worked tirelessly this summer to develop the Mason Quality options so that whatever decision families made, they would know that their children would be physically and emotionally safe,” said Carson.

Some area districts – Middletown and Talawanda Schools – decided to start the new school year by having all their students learning from home.