Virtual student numbers increasing across Arkansas for 2021 school year

Coronavirus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, more and more parents in central Arkansas are choosing the virtual learning option for their children this year.

The enrollment numbers keep growing day by day as the delta variant of the virus continues its spread.

Some school districts in our area are shocked at the rate at which parents are choosing to keep their kids home this year.

When Pulaski County Special School District students and staff said goodbye in May, they thought things were looking better. But now, as we approach the start of school, there’s growing concern.

“We’ve heard from CDC and other health entities that this Delta variant is going to hit us even harder in August, September,” Janice Warren, the PCSSD Covid-19 point of contact said.

At the end of last year, PCSSD families chose if they wanted virtual or traditional learning for the 2021-2022 school year.

“Ninety-five percent of our students returned to traditional,” Warren said.

But on Tuesday, the district sent out its COVID-19 protocol and gave parents the choice of changing their preference.

“Yesterday, as part of that communication we sent to our parents, our virtual option blew up,” Warren said. “As of yesterday, we had had 132 new families in one day.”

The district says before that email went out, the application for its “Driven Virtual Academy” had gotten just six clicks.  

One day later, there’s been 900 clicks to the application and a total of 415 students have been enrolled in the virtual program. And PCSSD isn’t the only district seeing this trend.

Last week, the North Little Rock School District had 282 students sign up for virtual. Now, they have 433.

The Little Rock School District has 658 students doing virtual and the Jacksonville North Pulaski School District has 182.

We could still see these numbers jump up even more. A lot of parents say they’re on the fence about sending their kids back to in-person or not.

They say they’re waiting to see if the state will consider overturning Act 1002, the law that says public schools cannot require students and staff to wear masks.

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