RICHMOND, Va.- Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced Thursday that every teacher in the commonwealth’s public schools will be able to host virtual classes on the Virginia Department of Education’s Virtual Virginia online learning system throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
The expanded access to Virtual Virginia is available at no cost to school divisions through $3.5 million in support from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.
“This expansion provides additional options for school divisions that are reopening with limitations on in-person instruction and for school divisions that may have to revert to distance learning during the year because of a COVID-19 outbreak,” Lane said.
The expansion of Virtual Virginia also includes the creation of digital content for grades K-8. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the online learning system focused exclusively on providing high school credit-bearing courses in mathematics, English, science, history and world languages.
“With the likelihood of most of our school divisions offering some version of virtual instruction for the upcoming school year, we wanted to leverage the capacity of our platform to provide content aligned with the Virginia Standards of Learning in grades K-8,” Lane said. “This expansion is the first time Virtual Virginia has offered content below the middle grades.”
Virtual Virginia content can be loaded onto devices for use by students in homes without internet access. VDOE is also using CARES Act funding to double — from 6,000 to 12,000 — the number of free student enrollments available to divisions in Virtual Virginia courses during 2020-2021.
The expansion allows school divisions to integrate local student information systems with the Virtual Virginia learning management system to roster classes and transfer grades at no cost. In addition, Virtual Virginia is providing a dedicated space within the platform for school divisions to curate, create, edit and share course content.
Currently more than 90% of Virginia’s 132 school divisions are either using the Virtual Virginia platform or enrolling students in Virtual Virginia courses. Virtual Virginia, VDOE and the Virginia Society of Technology in Education are collaborating — with support from CARES Act funding — to offer training and technical assistance for teachers and staff of participating divisions.
In June, Gov. Ralph Northam announced the designation of $3.5 million from the CARES Act Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to support the expansion of Virtual Virginia to create elementary and middle school content, open the platform to teachers in all school divisions and provide training for educators to meet the demand for quality online instruction.