Community Headlines News

Virtual academy opens this year

News Staff Writer

For Amy Cabaniss, the goal is simple and it’s personal – a high school education for every eligible student. Sometimes achieving that goal is easier said than done.
For some students, the brick and mortar building is school. For other students, for various reasons, the building and the classroom are not the perfect setting.
This year, students have an option – Escambia County Virtual Academy (ECVA). These are classes taken online for credit, classes that fulfill the requirements for a high school diploma.
Cabaniss, curriculum supervisor with the Escambia County School System, has seen the need for this type of school here. In recent years, when asked if virtual classes were available, she has had to refer families to other school systems. However, offering ECVA here is not intended to go head to head with other schools, but to take care of Escambia County students in Escambia County.
“We’re not competing with any other school or district,” Cabaniss said. “This is one of the things I have always felt we needed to do for our students – address their needs and provide every opportunity for all kids.”
Students “attending” ECVA will be included in the enrollment for the schools in their zone – in other words, the school they would attend if they were going to class. Students enrolled in ECVA are allowed to participate in sports and all extracurricular activities.
The school system is partnering with Odysseyware to provide the academy. Students need not think this is just an easy way to get out of class. Odysseyware provides real time reporting and monitoring to the school. The curriculum is still Escambia County schools curriculum, and students are enrolled on grade level.
Students in grades three through 12 are eligible for ECVA. The academy is limited to 25 this first year; acceptance is on a first come first serve basis.
The academy is not device dependent; laptop, phone, tablet, iPad – students can access school from, well, virtually anywhere.
Who benefits from a virtual school?
* Students who are homebound
* Those who want to take courses not offered at a particular school
* Students who want increased flexibility due to demanding schedules (athletics, family travel / obligations, work-related conflicts)
* Students who are physically and/or emotionally challenged
* Students who can’t attend classes for medical reasons
* Students who want to complete courses over the summer
* Students for whom the traditional classroom is no longer an option
“It’s vital that every student, no matter their circumstance, has the opportunity for an education,” Cabaniss said. “Most important is that we want them to go to school somewhere, somehow.”
For more information on Escambia County Virtual Academy, contact Amy Cabaniss at 368-0302,