STATEWIDE — Monday was the first day for enrollment in Florida Virtual School after it reported record enrollment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's uncertain whether that trend will continue, though.
What You Need To Know
- Future enrollment number for Florida Virtual School is unclear
- Florida Virtual School’s full-time enrollment increased 98% in 2020-21
- Decisions school districts make about next year to play role in FLVS's future
- Some parents say they only enrolled children in FLVS due to COVID pandemic
Jennifer Gossen homeschools her children with the help of Florida Virtual Schools Flex courses.
“I have found FLVS to be very helpful, very professional,” Gossen said.
She started using them at the beginning of last school year, and when the pandemic shut down schools in Florida in 2020, her phone blew up with parents asking for advice.
“I was pretty popular when the pandemic hit,” Gossen said.
So was Florida Virtual School. At the beginning of this school year, Florida Virtual School’s full-time enrollment increased 98%, almost doubling from 5,770 in 2019-20 to 11,414 in 2020-21.
Parents came for pandemic safety from COVID-19 but liked it for its flexibility, too, resource teacher Melissa Martin said.
“The parents call us in tears because it’s just something their child needed, and because they were able to come to us for free,” Martin said.
Recent surveys show demand for online education is still high, FLVS said.
But Martin says that could depend on how school districts structure next year.
“Once school districts make their decisions, then they’ll kind of have a better idea of what they want to do,” Martin said.
Gossen said she has heard from parents who only participated with FLVS because of the pandemic and won’t continue now that vaccinations are widely available.
“It’s been about 50-50,” Gossen said. “Some people, they’re done with homeschooling. They want their kids out of the house, and kids want to be out of the house and I certainly understand that.”
But for the Gossens, the benefits of an online, homeschool education are there, with or without a pandemic.
More information on FLVS enrollment can be found on its website.