LEARNING CURVE: New virtual school in Ozark

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OZARK, Mo. – Another virtual learning option is coming to the Ozarks, and just one school district will be able to use it.

The Ozark school district is launching an online platform for first through sixth graders. It’s different than ‘Launch,’ a virtual learning program, since students will only learn from teachers in their district.

“That was something that was asked last year when we began offering virtual instruction at the elementary level,” Assistant principal at Ozark West Elementary Rachel Tabuya said. “We did that through partnerships. At the time, parents wanted to know if Ozark teachers would be providing that instruction. We’re excited that this year we are able to offer that. All of our teachers have their master’s degree. They all have several years of teaching experience behind them. I just think it’s going to be a great program for our families who prefer that method of instruction.”

Tabuya will provide administrative support for the virtual school. She says Ozark’s virtual school will offer a mix of live classes and activities students can complete at any time.

“The key things to keep in mind with virtual instruction are that they do require support from a parent,” Tabuya said.

Students who enroll would be able to use the district’s libraries virtually and in-person.

“We want kids reading every day,” Tabuya said. “We want them to have books in their hands. We also provide both methods, whether they want to read online or hold a book in their hands. I think those are both very important for students as they develop and grow.”

Tabuya says many families in the area prefer in-person learning, and she doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.

“But we also want to serve all students,” Tabuya said. “That’s part of our mission as a school district is that we provide high-quality instruction that will prepare students to be future-ready. We wanted to make sure that those who choose to do virtual instruction receive that same high-quality instruction.”

Students participating in the program will have a shorter day of learning.

“We wanted parents to be able to have that flexibility,” Tabuya said. “Some families like to participate in community events like Springfield Little Theatre or sporting or other lessons. But it’s still that same level of instruction.”

Families who are interested in signing up for this new, free learning option should contact their child’s elementary school. Virtual instruction begins August 23, 2021, and families have until September 3, 2021, to complete the enrollment process.

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