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Education

Remote Learning Continues With New Virtual Elementary School In Salt Lake City School District

Asian boy student video conference e-learning with teacher and classmates on computer in living room at home.
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Parents are looking into online learning for their at-risk children as the fall semester approaches.

Salt Lake City School District is opening a virtual elementary school this fall for grades K-6. It’s one of the many districts to announce the launch of online schools in Utah.

The new school will operate similarly to what students experienced during the pandemic. It will follow a four day schedule with shorter hours and synchronous learning.

On Wednesdays, students have the option to have in-person small group instruction.

Kenneth Limb, principal of Salt Lake Virtual Elementary, said the pandemic taught educators that some students thrive in an online environment.

“We realized that we really ought to have an option for students and parents who are A, more successful with online instruction and B, really feel like they want or need that,” Limb said.

He said there was a lot of feedback from the community about wanting to continue online remote learning.

“As a school district who believes in choice, we said we better have some choice for those folks who want online instruction,” Limb said.

The online school will be staffed with teachers from the school district and is expected to have around 200 students. They will be supplied with a laptop, a headset, a mouse and course materials alongside access to the Salt Lake School District’s library.

Kids also don’t need to be in the Salt Lake City District to enroll.

“Technically they could be anywhere in Utah because we have not made the experiences that have been coming in-person mandatory,” he said. “They could be anywhere and be a part of Salt Lake Virtual Elementary.”

As new COVID-19 cases have spiked recently, and the vaccine remains unavailable for children under 12, some parents are weighing the option of continuing online schooling.

Ashley Weitz has a 7-year-old son who has asthma and is at higher risk for COVID-19 complications. She said she worries about sending her child back to school this fall because Utah legislators banned school mask mandates in May.

Now, she’s looking into Salt Lake virtual elementary school.

“I think having peers who are learning in similar environments — I'm hoping — is going to be helpful for my own child,” she said.

In-person registration opened Monday. Parents can still register their kid in-person at the district office Tuesday from noon to 4 p.m. and Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. The first day of class is scheduled for Aug. 24.

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