SC online public schools say interest in programs will likely remain high after pandemic
COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – Officials say interest in online virtual schools in South Carolina reached new heights at the start of the 2020-21 school year.
South Carolina Connections Academy Executive Director Josh Kitchens said, â€œBefore, we were pretty much an outlier. Now I think virtual education is becoming more acceptable.
When the pandemic forced students to learn virtually in 2020, some parents switched to more established virtual programs for their students.
One of them is VirtualSC. The state-sponsored online program is open to students in grades 7-12. Office of Virtual Education Director Bradley Mitchell said, â€œRight now we have 13,154 registrations. Last year at the exact same time we had 15,317, but the year before we were at 11,821.
He said that this school year they have returned to normal growth.
Some of the smaller online schools like Odyssey Online Learning reported adding 200 students this year. With this increase in registrations, they had to add additional staff. Executive Director Ashley Owings said, â€œWe have been fortunate to receive all federal funds to help hire additional support staff for our students. “
With work underway to bridge South Carolina’s digital divide, officials said their statewide programs are gearing up for more interest and growth.
South Carolina Preparatory Academy is one of South Carolina’s newest online schools. Executive Director Tracey Williams said she expects interest in virtual education to continue to grow. â€œMaybe not at the same rate as in the last year and a half, but there will always be a need,â€ she said.
South Carolina is also home to six free online virtual charter schools that are available to students and their families statewide: