Enrollment in virtual schools remains after the pandemic school year


WAUSAU, Wisconsin (WSAW) – The new school year is just a few weeks away and some parents in our area will not choose to send their children back to class. Last year, enrollments in at least one virtual school jumped and are now holding up.

Schools say there is a distinction here between improvised virtual learning that many children did in the last year and the design of the virtual school, which is designed for learning at home. A local virtual school says the pandemic has given some families a new perspective on what school might look like.

“It helped people open their eyes to various avenues, this school doesn’t have to be 7:30 am to 3:30 pm in a brick and mortar building,” said Jenny Seymour, director of WAVE.

WAVE, or “Wausau Area Virtual Education,” says the pandemic has accelerated demand for learning designed for the home. This past school year, WAVE added Kindergarten to Grade 5.

“It forced us to go a little bit faster in planning and executing what we were already talking about,” Seymour said.

Seymour says if families were successful in doing improvised virtual learning, it would translate into even more success with classes designed to be outside of a classroom.

“WAVE gives students the opportunity to have more flexibility, to be more involved in their own learning, so that they lead and make more decisions. You create a schedule, but there is always a responsibility, ”she explained. “Students who were used to being more passive in class now need to take a more active role. “

She believes it also allows for more flexibility.

“Families and students can re-prioritize things where a family might have needs and obligations that are greater someday, and that means school might be later in the evening,” she said. declared.

Mandy Thompson’s children attended Rural Virtual Academy, another local virtual school, even before the pandemic. She is satisfied with the consistency offered last year. She says virtual learning works for her 10 and 12 year olds because she is able to guide them.

“It has been very helpful to have that one-on-one support and to be able to help my children who are easily distracted in a large classroom,” said Thompson. “It really helped build their confidence. “

Some WAVE students are soon returning to a school building in Wausau. But Seymour says some of the families who left brick-and-mortar schools when they went online will not be returning this fall.

“Some of the students who were doing distance learning said, I don’t want to go back to this kind of structured, rigid schedule,” Seymour said.

The Wausau School District, which includes WAVE, will return to school on Wednesday September 1.

Copyright 2021 WSAW. All rights reserved.


Perry A. Thomasson