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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

In the wake of the pandemic, a new virtual academy is taking shape in Marshalltown

A new virtual option will be available to Pre-K to 12th-grade students across the state through the Marshalltown Virtual Academy.

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Virtual learning has taken on a whole new role during the pandemic, and in some cases, it can work really well for students.  Just ask Kelly Chua.

"He has absolutely flourished," Chua said about her son who took the 100% option that his school offered due to the pandemic. "He's has gained a lot of independence. He has learned these great adult skills like keeping a schedule, checking his email, completing tasks."

That's why when she heard of the Marshalltown Virtual Academy that's set to debut in August of this year, she was quick to sign up.

"We knew the power of online learning for students, and we have a population that wants that," said Dr. Lisa Stevenson, director of instruction for the Marshalltown Community School District.

The program is available to all students from Pre-K to 12th grade across the state of Iowa.  It will offer dual-language instruction as well as instruction tailored to students' individual education needs.  Dr. Stevenson, however, said there are a few things parents should consider first.

"There has to be a commitment to really support their child in staying engaged," she said.

Local 5 spoke to two teachers who have spent much of the past school year in a 100% teaching environment, and they have some advice for parents considering the change.

For younger students, kindergarten teacher Sydney Luu recommends that parents assess how kids react when left alone to complete simple tasks.

"Seeing their kid's patience; seeing how their child acts when attention is on them all of the time," Ms. Luu said.

For older kids, Jocelyn Schmidt recommends ensuring kids are self-motivated.

"Motivation is big for those kids who are eager to do their learning," said Ms. Schmidt.

The deadline to sign up your student is March 1 if you aren't already part of the Marshalltown Community School District. More information on that is included in the Facebook post below. 

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