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Virtual School? Yes, it’s an Option.

The complexity of School Choice, school bullies, or having to deal with the possibility of another school shooting can cause insurmountable stress for any parent or child. If you’re a parent, or currently enrolled in one of Southwest Florida’s public schools, did you know you have online school, or virtual school, as an option?

Nearly three million students have completed semesters through Florida Virtual School. FLVS started in 1997, as a free alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

“It was very small at the beginning, and I think scary for some people,” said Caprice Woodburn who taught several classes through FLVS.

“Florida is the first state virtual school in the United States. Now, it’s well known all over the country and all over the world actually,” she added.

Recently, a Florida law established the Hope Scholarship, which allows students who have been harassed or bullied at school the option to transfer to a private school.

But for students like Marena Low, who was a victim of cyberbullying, she opted to take her education online. “I felt that the faculty and staff were not in the best interest of my education and my life,” Marena explained.

Marena’s father, Brett Low, said it was a tough decision but realized it was in his daughter’s best interest.

After six months of virtual school, Marena decided to give traditional schools another try for the 2018-2019 school year.

“When you have a situation with bullying, and you communicate with the school staff, I didn’t feel like they were addressing it as aggressively as they could have. There was nothing I could do,” Brett shared.

Before fully committing to any virtual program, Caprice Woodburn suggested that students try it out for a couple of weeks to see if it works for your child.

FLVS gives students a two week drop period when they start a course. If the students feel that the course isn’t working out, they have an option to drop without any penalties.

“I made the switch, and it’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made,” Marena added.

“The one thing that I really took away as a life lesson – if you’re kids really asking for something, listen,” Brett said.

Reporting by Jalyn Henderson

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