SC public online schools say interest in virtual programs likely to remain high after pandemic

State News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Officials say interest in online virtual schools in South Carolina hit new highs at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

South Carolina Connections Academy Executive Director Josh Kitchens said, “Before we were more of an outlier. Now I think virtual education is becoming more acceptable.”

When the pandemic forced students to learn virtually in 2020, some parents opted for more established virtual programs for their students.

One of those is VirtualSC. The state-sponsored online program is open to students from 7th to 12th grade. Director of the Office of Virtual Education Bradley Mitchell said, “Right now we have 13,154 enrollments. Last year at this same exact time, we had 15,317 but the year prior we were at 11,821.”

He said this school year they are back to normal growth.

Some of the smaller online schools like Odyssey Online Learning said they added 200 students this year. With this increase in enrollment, they’ve had to add extra staff. Executive Director Ashley Owings said, “We have been blessed to have all the federal funding coming in to help hire additional support services staff for our students.”

With work being done to bridge South Carolina’s digital divide, officials said their statewide programs are gearing up for more interest and growth.

The South Carolina Preparatory Academy is one of the newest online schools in South Carolina. Executive Director Tracey Williams said she expects interest in virtual education to continue to grow. “Maybe not at the same pace at the last year and half but there will always be a need for it,” she said.

South Carolina is also home to six free online virtual charter schools that are available to students and their families statewide:

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

High School Red Zone video and scores
Mascot Challenge
High School Standouts
Ask the Expert
First Responder Friday
Find A Job
wspa news app free for download choose your store below
download the wspa news app from the apple app store
download the wspa news app from the google play store