RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virtual Virginia is part of the Virginia Department of Education, and it’s becoming more and more popular. With COVID-19 numbers now heading in the wrong direction, that popularity is already accelerating.
Data from Virtual Virginia shows enrollments — both full- and part-time students — have increased in Hampton Roads by 75% from this time last year, when the pandemic was already several months old.
That increase in popularity outstrips the statewide rate of about 17%.
Virtual Virginia has been offering K-12 courses, professional learning for educators, and generating digital content for years. The head of the program says that trend was already developing before COVID-19 began to spread.
“We saw a lot of increase in student offerings, expanding catalogs beyond what was available in the physical school, and that existed pre-pandemic,” said Executive Director Brian Mott in a Friday morning interview.
“People are just generally more comfortable using some of these tools and resources than they were just a little over a year ago,” Mott said.
The data shows Hampton Roads enrollment — now 5,910 students — has jumped 167% compared with two years ago. State enrollment — 18,322 — went up 103% in that same period.
Now that COVID-19 numbers are trending in the wrong direction, parents are wondering if they can still get their child enrolled in Virtual Virginia. Mott says those decisions are made on the local level.
“Obviously, things change. We would advise any parent, guardian or student who’s interested in Virtual Virginia to first contact their local school to see what their virtual learning policies are,” he said.
He says school districts try to accommodate special circumstances.
“Particularly, medical needs, military families, transfers into school divisions that weren’t foreseen at the time of the enrollment deadline,” Mott said.
Virtual Virginia has two cohorts, with one beginning this coming Tuesday. All school divisions in the state can participate in Virtual Virginia – but so can homeschooled students and private schools.