NYC Is Opening Fully Virtual Schools

By Erika Hanson | 2 weeks ago

virtual schools

Like it or not, virtual learning is likely to become a common option for schoolchildren in America. When schools shuttered their doors to students amid the COVID outbreak during the first half of 2020, nearly every American household with children attending public schools reported some form of distance learning. Many were appalled at the school format, while others found it beneficial. Either way, it has gained more traction, and now the largest school district in the U.S. has announced plans to create fully virtual schools for families who prefer the alternative option. 

According to reports from Chalkbeat, New York City is planning to establish two completely virtual schools for residents in The Big Apple. The announcement came from top education officials during a City Council hearing on Tuesday. For now, it appears that the idea is still in the early stages, and very few details were given as to how exactly the operation will run.

virtual schools

Schools Chancellor David Banks has previously touted fully virtual schools for the major city since taking his placement this January. Like many other education officials around the country, Banks believes remote learning, or virtual schools, are “here to stay”, pandemic or not. Furthermore, Banks outlined some of the possible benefits that virtual schools plan to alleviate on education.

First off, Banks pointed to the chronic issue of absenteeism riddling New York City, and nearly all other districts across the nation. Within the city’s school district, about 37% of all students have been chronically absent this year, missing more than 10% of all class days. These figures are significantly higher than in previous years. Educators are hopeful that with the launch of these full-time virtual schools, these plaguing high numbers will see a dip, as much of the issue has been correlated with the pandemic. 

Furthermore, education leaders feel that by offering virtual schools, they are promoting school choice or the notion that every American family should be able to easily choose the education format from which they want their children to learn. While media headlines have been fueled by upset parents and students wanting their children to be back in the classroom full time, some found solace in virtual school. There are many reasons for this. Some families preferred remote learning because of fears about the COVID virus. Likewise, parents with immunocompromised children feel it is a safer solution for their children. And in some cases, some students just simply preferred the alternative.

virtual schools

But even with its potential benefits, there are plenty of hurdles New York City will surely face in implementing virtual schools. Depending on the logistics, and also the number of families who choose to enroll, the virtual schools could possibly complicate public school funding. Schools are funded based on student enrollment numbers, and if the physical schools lose more children, it could stress their already burdened budgets. Just this school year alone, New York City schools have seen a dip in enrollment of nearly 6.4%.

New York City isn’t the first major city in America to implement virtual schools, and it is likely not to be the last. Denver, Philadelphia, and Detroit have also created similar virtual schools since the onset of the pandemic. And even before the pandemic, New York City had trialed remote learning pilot programs via a handful of schools in the Bronx. 

Those against virtual schools need not worry, as it will likely never become a mandatory indefinite option for public education. But for those who prefer it, it is a pleasant acknowledgment. Not everyone learns and excels in the same manner, and it could possibly benefit countless children. While most of the details for New York City’s virtual school program remain under wraps, officials announced they hope to be able to release more news soon.