In Lafayette Parish, school will begin August 17 with a blended model where students alternate in-school and distance learning.
Families do have the option to join the Lafayette Online Academy using a completely virtual learning model.
TJ Chassion, the son of Lafayette Parish School Board Member Tehmi Chassion, said he's looking forward to going to school online this year.
He's going into the fifth grade and is zoned for Alice Boucher Elementary. His family, concerned about the virus, decided it's best to make the change.
"So we won't get infected by the Coronavirus and I won't bring it home to my family," Chassion said. "I have two grandmas that like to visit a lot and I don't want them to get sick."
Allison Dickerson with the Lafayette Parish School System says a lot of families are having the same conversation as the Chassions, trying to decide whether to go the traditional route or go to school online.
The district's online academy gives students the same access the public school system offers. While the majority of learning is online, students have the support of local teachers.
"We have local teachers at this facility who can assist students," Dickerson said. "So, whether that's remotely, calling in with a question during an office hour, or if that's coming to the physical learning lab and having some one-on-one time with our teachers, we have those services available."
The online academy offers individualized learning approaches. Students have access to teachers through email, web conference, or in-person at the Academy's Learning Center. High school students even have the opportunity for dual enrollment at either UL or SLCC.
Dickerson maintains, if families choose the online route, it's important for parents to stay engaged.
"You need families supporting the students and making sure that a routine is maintained and class work is being done," Dickerson said.
Families are asked to provide their own computer, but if needed, the district will provide a device.
"It's typically a Chromebook and it really just provides internet access," said Dickerson. "A laptop has more functionality. A lot of parents choose to make that investment."
Anyone enrolled in the online academy can participate in extracurricular activities at their zoned school.
"In addition to education, we want to also give them the other opportunities that are available, to have access to extra curricular activities or events that a traditional student would have," Dickerson said.
As for TJ Chassion, he's looking forward to getting back to school.
"We'll be able to have a good education. We'll be able to stay on track and it won't be like it is now...not a lot of school. We're going to have actual school," Chassion said.
The deadline to apply to the Lafayette Online Academy is August 3.
LPSS says it's important to see what enrollment will look like so they know how to staff the academy and to make sure they have enough computers.
If a student is enrolled in the online academy, the district says because of the pandemic, they are making a commitment to stay in the academy through the first semester.
For more information on the academy, click here.
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