Frequently Asked Questions About Cyber Schools & PA Virtual Charter School
We recently hosted a Facebook Live session to answer the questions we get asked the most about attending a cyber charter school, as well as questions specific to PA Virtual. High School Assistant Principal, Laura Afshari and Director of Marketing & Communications, Jennifer Kilpatrick also took questions live from the audience. The recording of the session can be found below. Don't have time to watch? Keep scrolling to read the 10 most frequently asked questions.
Top 10 Questions Asked About Cyber Charter Schools &
- How does it work?
There are two learning paths your students can choose: Synchronous or Asynchronous. If you are looking for a structured schedule that meets at certain times each day, then synchronous classes may better suit your needs. While a Learning Coach is still needed for synchronous classes, they offer the benefit of live, real-time teacher interaction and instruction. Students who follow a primarily synchronous plan will still have some asynchronous classes and lessons to complete, with the help and guidance of the Learning Coach.
- What makes PA Virtual different from other schools?
We are the top-performing cyber charter school in PA. We use the K12 curriculum and we offer both live (online) classes and independent classes at all grade levels. All of our students have the support and guidance of a state-certified teacher. In addition to academic support, we also have staff dedicated for non-academic support. They help with things like organizing field trips, attendance, technical issues, orientation, parent support and learning, and more.
- How do students socialize?
Our students may take part in many academic and social outings statewide each year. These include trips to museums, zoos, parks, and other community destinations. In addition, our students can sign up for our many clubs as well as participate in extracurricular activities at their local school districts. Each of our eight (8) Family Support Coordinators (FSC) plan one outing per month, excluding months when state testing is taking place and during the summer.
- How many hours per day does a student spend on his or her computer?
Students in grades k-6 will complete an average of 5 hours of school work each school day. Students in grades 7-12 will complete an average of 5.5 hours of school work each school day. Younger students will have less screen time. They may complete activities in workbooks or use manipulatives to reinforce concepts they are learning in class.
- What is the role of the parent?
Students must have a primary responsible adult at home – called the Learning Coach - to monitor their progress and assist them in meeting the requirements of PA Virtual. PA Virtual requires that a parent/guardian/Learning Coach remains at home with the student while the student is attending school in order to provide academic support to the student.
As a Learning Coach, you will be a key player on your student’s team, partnering with your child’s teachers and actively working alongside him or her every day. Your children will spend approximately 5-6 hours a day on schoolwork, dependent on grade level. Direct parental participation during the school day can range from 80 percent for the early grades to about 50 percent for high school students.
- Can we call anytime if we need help?
Teachers are available 8:00AM - 4:00PM Monday-Friday (except when they're in class teaching live!). Our teachers are also extremely responsive by email. PA Virtual also offers a Tech Support helpline that is available 6:00 AM - 10:00 PM, Monday-Friday. You can always call outside of these hours, leave a voicemail, and a support staff member will get back to you when they are back in the office.
- Do you have a Special Education Department?
Yes, we adhere to applicable federal and state laws that govern special education. Each student with an IEP is assigned a PA-certified special education teacher. That teacher works with a regular education teacher, parent or guardian, and other team members to create an appropriate IEP and implement each student’s specially designed instruction.
- Is a computer provided?
Yes! Each student that enrolls with PA Virtual receives their own laptop to use while they are a PA Virtual student (HP 450 G6), a printer/scanner, and curriculum materials for the year. These items are shipped directly to your house.
In addition, Internet Service Provider (ISP) reimbursement is given out twice per school year, in December and July. Families receive $35 each month they have a student enrolled with PA Virtual, excluding Summer.
- Do students have opportunities to participate in sports, band or choir at their local school district?
Students enrolled at PA Virtual (or any PA cyber charter school) are eligible to participate in their local school district’s extracurricular activities. Parents should contact their local district to find out when sign-ups/try-outs are. Your local district should be able to help you sign up your child.
How do students do gym?
Physical education is conducted asynchronously at all grade levels. K-8 students are required to log up to one hour each week of structured, organized and supervised activities. In grades 7 and higher, the P.E. course is taught by a certified teacher. High school students take one credit of Physical Education as part of their graduation requirements. Many students go beyond our requirements to take part in sports and recreational activities in their communities.
Have a question that wasn't listed? Check out our FAQ page to find answers to questions related to academics, the enrollment process, and more.
Interested in learning more? Get a chance to ask your questions live at one of our upcoming online Open Houses!
This online Open House will be much like an open house you would attend at any other school. You will learn about our curriculum and teaching methods, you will get a peek inside our virtual classroom and see how it works, you’ll get a hands-on demonstration of the technology we use, and of course you will get to meet other parents and staff here at PA Virtual Charter School.