Florida Virtual School steps into breach after Irma

Travis Pillow

Some communities – especially in Southwest Florida and the Keys – could take time to recover from the damage of Hurricane Irma. Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Most Florida public schools have reopened after recovering from Hurricane Irma. But some — especially in the Keys and the southwestern part of the state — won’t be back until next week at the earliest. And some individual families could face disruption and hardship long after local schools are up and running.

The statewide public virtual school has stepped into the breach. Gov. Rick Scott reminded people of the option in a statement yesterday.

“As families across the state continue to recover from Hurricane Irma, we must make sure our students have access to every resource they need to remain successful in school,” he said.

Florida Virtual School functions as an independent school district for Florida students. Its FLVS Global arm offers classes outside the state. It’s often offered tuition-free classes to students displaced by major hurricanes, from Katrina in 2005 to Harvey earlier this year.

Larry Banks, FLVS’ director of district and franchise solutions, said some students might use online classes to keep up with coursework before returning to brick-and-mortar classrooms. Others might complete entire courses.

“Every student, school and situation is going to be treated individually,” he said. “It would really be up to the student what they choose to do.”

Students generally move through FLVS classes at their own pace, with the help of teachers they reach online or by phone. The virtual school only gets funding for courses students successfully finish. Increasingly, it also helps schools offer classes in on-campus computer labs.

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