Interest in online classes spikes in some Minnesota school districts |

Interest in online classes spikes in some Minnesota school districts

Jessica Miles
Updated: August 12, 2021 06:28 PM
Created: August 12, 2021 05:32 PM

The Minnesota Department of Education says there are 68 newly approved online school providers set to open this school year.

In Bloomington, New Code Academy will launch next month. It's a K-12 online school with 400 students already enrolled — 60 of whom, or about 15%, are coming from outside the school district.

"The top line conversation is driven, at least immediately, by health concerns and the lack of information, and trying to navigate that health information is what families are starting to wrestle with," said John Weisser, executive director of technology and information services with Bloomington Public Schools.

Weisser says the August enrollment is surprising, going up about a percentage point per day.

"We're adding about four or five students per week overall, most of those being outside the district," he said.

About 7,000 students chose the distance learning option in the Anoka-Hennepin School District last spring, which is roughly 20% of the school population.

This year, a virtual option called Anoka Hennepin Virtual Academy is being offered to K-12 students, and it's gaining interest as the school year nears.

"Our nine through 12 option probably hasn't grown a lot since we have always had that available, but we are averaging about a classroom full of kids grades K through eight, and that's new," Anoka-Hennepin Superintendent David Law said.

Law says, so far, 97 elementary students are enrolled, along with 45 middle school students and 215 high school students.

Students were initially asked to enroll for the entire year but that directive just changed, allowing students under the age of 12, who aren't yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, to enroll by semester.

"Yesterday, we sent a notice home to every student under the age of 12 and said if you want to try this just for the first semester, just through December because you are waiting for that vaccine to come through, we will create that option for you," Law said.

The Minnesota Department of Education says, in addition to the 68 newly approved online providers, another 96 have provisional approval to teach just their own students online, and just for this coming school year, but more schools are actively submitting applications.

The deadline was early August but has now been changed to Aug. 27.

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