Frequently Asked Questions About Cyber Schools (In-Year Enrollment)
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 about transitioning to a cyber charter school after the school year has started. Director of Parent Education & Engagement, Jennifer Brodhag and Director of Marketing & Communications, Jennifer Kilpatrick also took questions live from the audience. Jennifer Brodhag is also the parent of three former PA Virtual students. The recording of the session can be found below. Don't have time to watch? Keep scrolling for some of our most frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions About Transferring to a Cyber Charter School (In-Year)
- Does my child need to continue to go to school until they start with PA Virtual?
Yes. At the end of the enrollment process with PA Virtual (after you have filled out the application and submitted all required enrollment documents), you will attend an enrollment conference over the phone. You will be given a withdrawal date to give to your previous school at this conference.
- When will we receive school supplies?
You will receive two shipments. You will receive your child's laptop after you finish the enrollment process and before your child begins orientation. You will receive a second shipment with all the curricular materials after your child completes orientation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cyber Charter Schools & PA Virtual Charter School (General)
- What is a typical day like?
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.
- 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. We also offer almost 20 virtual club and activities to support various interests such as a gaming, photography, and writing club as well as many others.
- How much do students sit in front of a 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.
- How much homework do children get in comparison to their local school district?
It’s an interesting question, and one that does vary greatly by grade level and the type of courses the student is taking (synchronous or asynchronous). Teachers do assign work outside of class, usually it’s due on a weekly or longer term basis, rather than due daily.
- How do you handle a child that has an IEP?
PA Virtual adheres 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.
- What happens if my child has a doctor's appointment?
We realize from time to time students have appointments during the school day. We ask that you get in contact with the school prior to the appointment so we can assist you with your student's attendance and obtaining any make-up work from class. Synchronous (live) classes are also recorded, so a student may watch the recording of classes they missed.
- Do cyber students participate in standardized testing?
In accordance with ACT 22, the PA Charter School Law, our 3rd-8th grade students are required to take the PSSA exams in Math, English/Language Arts and Science. Students are required to take the Keystone Exams upon course completion in Algebra, Literature, and Biology. Both PSSAs and Keystones involve travel to a face-to-face testing site. Testing is held at several locations across the state so that families are not required to travel more than a 50 mile radius. State testing is supervised and proctored by PA Virtual faculty and staff.
Do students have to log in and log out at set times each day?
Every student’s schedule is a little different, but our live classes begin at 8:15am. Although asynchronous students may not have scheduled live classes, all students are required to log into Blackboard (our Learning Management System) by 8:30am, as noted in the Student Handbook.
In order for a student’s legal attendance to be counted, he/she MUST log into Blackboard each day that school is in session. If the student skips logging into Blackboard, it is the equivalent of skipping or arriving late to homeroom at a brick and mortar school (B&M) and not checking in with the office before heading off to class. If students miss these important steps at a local school district, they are marked absent for the day, and it is the same here at PA Virtual.
In addition, students are expected to attend all assigned synchronous classes scheduled each school day, as listed on their schedule. It is the responsibility of the parents at PA Virtual to provide an excuse when their child is absent from school.
- 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.
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.