State allows driving schools to offer virtual drivers education classes

Inside A+ Driving School in White Bear Lake, instructors are preparing to teach drivers training via teleconference.

"We're just super excited that kids can continue their drivers education that was cut short because of the 'stay at home' order," said owner Pete Hosmer.

Fifteen-year-old Emma is one of the students participating after her class ended abruptly last month. 

"I did the first five days in the classroom and then we had to cancel it because of coronavirus," she said.

On Tuesday, the school's first class of 65 students met for three hours online.

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"Our instructors are able to interact with the students and the students can interact with us, they can text in their questions, or chat with their questions if they have any," explained Hosmer.

Up until this time, Hosmer said state law only allowed virtual drivers education classes for students who were homeschooled. He says the 'stay at home' order essentially shut down his small business overnight. This change allows him to keep doing business in a different way.

"The best thing for drivers education is face-to-face, I really want to be in the classroom with the groups of kids so they really see the non-verbal's, but this is the next best thing," Hosmer said.

And it's giving students like Emma the opportunity to stay on track with lessons.

"I would love to get my permit because I want to learn how to drive really bad, I want to drive really bad," she said.

Hosmer hopes keeping things moving will lessen the strain on an already backlogged system once things get back to normal.

"We have kids that just want to finish their classroom now, they can't take the permit test yet because the DMV is still closed, they can't take any driving test yet, but as soon as that opens up there's going to be a lot of students and a lot of drivers that want to get their licenses," said Hosmer.