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September 5, 2022 7 mins

Even as pandemic disruptions have faded and most schools have returned to in-person instruction, permanent virtual classes are still being offered to protect vulnerable children.  Districts in Texas, California, and New York are creating full-time remote learning programs for this school year.  The virtual option may only be appropriate for a small percentage of students, but in an effort to fight declining enrollment and disruptions from families moving, virtual schools will remain part of the education system. Ben Chapman, education reporter at the WSJ, joins us for what to know.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
It's Monday, September five. I'm Oscar Ramirez from the Daily
Dive podcast in Los Angeles, and this is reopening America
even a pandemic. Disruptions have faded and most schools have
returned to in person instruction. Permanent virtual classes are being
offered to protect vulnerable children. Districts in Texas, California, and
New York are creating full time remote learning programs for

this school year. The virtual option may only be appropriate
for a small percentage of students, but in an effort
to fight declining enrollment and disruptions from families moving, virtual
schools will remain part of the education system. Ben Chapman,
education reporter at The Wall Street Journal, joins us for
What to Know. Thanks for joining us, Ben, Thanks for
having me well. Coming off of the pandemic, I know

a lot of things have been easing up right now,
at least on the education front. I mean, we're almost
completely back to normal. It seems to be in person
learning is the way to go right now. But there
are certain districts We're looking at Texas, California, New York,
certain districts there that are providing full time virtual classes,

and you know, some students are still signing up for it,
you know, some with a certain health risk, others that
might have anxiety about going to school. It could still
be a really important way for them to keep on learning.
So then what are we seeing with this UM So Uh,
this is a lasting artifact UH that is coming out

of the pandemic, which is that UM, when the COVID
nineteen pandemic UM hit and schools shut down, schools UM
sort of figured out how to deliver internet lessons UM
to students over a period of a couple of years.

And UM, what has happened is that school districts have
added this tactic of delivering lesson and online to students
who are not at schools UM to their toolbox. And UM,
you know, so this is UM, you know, a new

tool that school districts have UM that they're using to
reach students. UM. And what we're seeing is school districts
around the country are using remote internet based lessons UM
to connect with the small percentage of students who want

virtual lessons rather than showing up in school. And again,
this is something new that that did not exist really
UM in any significant way before the pandemic happened, and
to be clear, right, this is for a small percentage
of students right now. I mean, the vast majority of
students and parents probably do prefer their kids to be

in school for in person instruction. But we're seeing uh,
you know, one of these UH schools in particularly, it's
the I Learned Virtual School in Dallas. But they're saying,
you know, maybe about four percent of students in Dallas
this kind of option could be good for. So it
is a small percentage of students that this would still
work for. That's right. That that appears to be about

the UM ballpark figure that UH districts seem to be thinking,
UM and researchers seem to be thinking, would be um,
uh you know, preferring UM remote lessons versus in in
person would be somewhere on the order of five percent, um,

four percent, three percent, six percent, some small percentage there. UM.
And And basically, to to sort of contextualize it a
little bit, UM, what we have here is UM this
UH school year, something in the order of better than

a quarter of school districts, to my best reckoning, are
probably offering UM some kind of virtual school lesson UM.
The research shows that before the pandemic happened, Um, it
was just about three of districts, So it's a it's

a big increase in the number of districts who are
offering these lessons, but the districts are saying that, you know,
it's still something like, you know, four or five six
percent of kids at those districts that are offering the
lessons that are taking them up on on you know, uh,

taking classes at home rather than going to school. And thankfully,
in all this, I mean, it's not too hard to implement,
right at least now that more kids are back for
in person instruction, there's limited infrastructure needs, it's not very
expensive to operate, so some of these schools districts can
offer this. And you know, one of the criticisms criticisms
that was happening during the pandemic is kind of the

academic setback or the emotional learning setbacks that were happening
because kids weren't interacting with teachers and other students. And
at least for now, for some of these remote schools
or schools offering these remote programs, this is a bigger
part of what they want to institute. They want to
make sure that they have the same goals for instruction
the same goals for socio emotional development for these remote learners. Yeah,

it's UM. It's a way for them to you know,
connect with with students that they feel like our best
served UM with uh you know, not going to school
in person. UM. And these maybe students who have UM,
you know, health concerns about being exposed to the coronavirus

or other UM, you know, illnesses that they could get
exposed to being out and about in public UM. Or
they could have a family member who could get sick
if UM if they came back and and spread something.
Or perhaps their family is moving around and and this

is the best way for them to sort of stay
engaged in a school or UM. Perhaps UH the student
is taken on some responsibilities around the house or even
gotten a job UM, and so the remote lessons offer
the flexibility for them to attend to whatever those other

responsibilities might be. UM. So those are some of the
different types of scenarios that we see students UM who
prefer these programs. UM. There are also kids who UM
you know have uh psychological men you know, social emotional challenges, UM,

who who may be stressed out, may they may have
anxiety or or different um situations where they just feel
more comfortable at home taking classes rather than going in. Well,
we'll see how this continues, I mean for now though,
we'll see this being kind of a permanent fixture. Well,

what the future holds for remote learning, but at least
for now, we'll still see it around. Ben Chapman, Educational
Report at the Wall Street Journal. Thank you very much
for joining us. Thanks so much, have a great day,
Appreciate it. I'm Oscar Ramirez and this has been reopening America.
Don't forget for today's big news stories. You can check
me out on the Daily Dive podcast every money through Friday.

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