PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Students in the School District of Palm Beach County will be returning to brick-and-mortar instruction next school year. That means distance learning options related to the COVID-19 pandemic will come to an end.
That has some parents who may not feel ready to send their children back to school considering virtual school options.
The School District of Palm Beach County has a virtual school program called Palm Beach Virtual School and enrollment is now open. It’s a K-12 virtual school option where students spend five to seven hours a day on course work taking all of their classes online.
There is no simultaneous teaching. The teachers in that program are district employees teaching only virtually.
The majority of Palm Beach County public school teachers are elated that come next school year, there will be only one teaching option: in-person brick-and-mortar instruction.
"Everybody is excited that the district has made this decision, and they’ve made it early so the people have the peace of mind and can prepare for next year," said Justin Katz, the president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association.
Katz said he knows the district will be expanding its virtual school program as a result of increased demand.
Full-time Palm Beach Virtual School is available for students in the school district, while Florida Virtual School is an online school for students throughout the state. Both are online public school options.
Students in Palm Beach Virtual School still take standardized testing and still receive a high school diploma upon completion, but all of the course work and instruction is done online.
Students in Florida Virtual School receive a diploma as well.
There is no fee for public school students to enroll in and take courses through Palm Beach Virtual School, and there is also no fee for Florida Virtual School.
Katz said it’s likely that some teachers may also want to switch to the virtual school within the district.
"Some enjoyed it and they got a lot of the experience and the new technology and new software that they were trained on," Katz said. "Their main gripe wasn't so much that they were doing virtual, it's that they were doing it simultaneously with a live audience in class and a virtual audience."
The School District of Palm Beach County expected to provide an update on what the next school year will look like, including virtual school options, on Thursday.
For more information about Palm Beach Virtual School, click here.
For more information about Florida Virtual School, click here.