Online school isn’t new to Ohio but it now seems more necessary than ever

Jefferson County

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (WTRF)- How we go back to school this year is one of the most challenging parts of this pandemic. But for nearly two decades there has been an online option.

It’s hard to believe this began back in 2003, but because of COVID-19 many different formats of the future are popping up and this time they have the experience to back it up. Based out of New Philadelphia, alternative K-12 is offered all online across the state.

Quaker Digital Academy is completely digital. It’s public, so it’s free for any student in Ohio and they provide a laptop and a nationally accredited curriculum to every student.

Quaker Digital Academy CEO, Dr. Richard Varrati, told 7News “if they haven’t been exposed to online instruction they’ve got a learning curve at the college because almost all the universities today offer online classes their freshman year.”

He understands it’s not for everyone but it can teach independence and discipline. Now there are many reasons this is a great choice for a family: bullying, the struggles of adolescence- but we can all agree it’s valuable in a time like this.

Dr. Varrati said “when we talk about at-risk students we always think about students that are very poor academically we work very well with them but we’ve also had students come in that they’re at-risk because they’re extremely bright.”

COVID-19 has accelerated sign-ups this year. And over the years they have perfected their art with constant professional development and fine-tuning. Their advice to those that are making the digital switch? Connectivity with families, and of course make sure you anticipate technology problems.

He exclaimed “the high school model is a factory model and we’re still looking at it in agrarian calendar and we’re in the 21st century so instead of looking at this…I’ve talked to some superintendents and they’re saying we’re only going to do this for 9 weeks and then we’re getting out, why not look at technology and how this works to look at it to modernize your school for the future.” He adds it’s way more than just turning on the computer and pulling the course up and it’ll be a tough road for schools just jumping in.

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