Online learning interest surges as pandemic worsens

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HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Pediatric COVID cases are surging because of the delta variant, and uncertainty about how safe in-person learning will be is causing a surge of interest in online learning.

Elizabeth Nelson, Director of schools for Texas Online Preparatory Schools (TOPS), told Valley Central that applications for their online school were “growing like crazy.”

Online learning became more prevalent during the pandemic with parents looking to keep their kids away from schools and potential COVID infections.

Nelson said that TOPS had seen slight increases in applications during the summer, but the recent spike in COVID cases has drastically increased applications.

“The biggest spike has really happened in about the last week, week-and-a-half,” said Nelson. “Tremendously big spike, there is a huge increase in interest and enrollment in our school.”

Nelson said that online learning can have extra benefits for parents besides just keeping their kids safe from COVID.

“They get to see everything they’re learning, everything that’s happening live with the teacher, they get access to all of the lessons, all of the assignments and can see what their student is learning,” said Nelson.

Online learning has advantages for students and parents, but Nelson warned that it does require parents to be more attentive.

‘[Parents] really need to make sure they are committed to supporting their students,” said Nelson. “It’s not a situation where they can just say “go get on the computer” and not verify to make sure they’re doing okay and don’t need some extra help.”

The school year has already started for online schools in Texas, but parents who did want to consider online learning still have time to enroll their students.

“Last start date in the fall is probably at the end of September, and then for Texas Online Preparatory School, I believe they are at the end of September, or there might be one at the end of October,” said Nelson.

Online learning is an alternative to in-person learning available to everyone in Texas, but there are requirements that have to be met in order to be accepted.

You can see the requirements on the TOPS website.

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