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Virtual school program is now available for homeschool families

The Inter-Mountain file photo Through the new virtual school program, homeschool students can achieve an accredited high school diploma and take part in activities including athletics and band. Above, the Elkins High School band marches into Elkins City Park during a past corn roast event.

ELKINS — Homeschool families in Randolph County who have interest in involving their students socially now have an opportunity to do so while introducing their child to rigorous academic courses.

Joseph Arbogast, assistant superintendent for RCS, emphasized the importance of receiving an accredited high school diploma, explaining the Randolph County — and West Virginia — Virtual School will give students the opportunity to achieve an accredited diploma.

“Our main goal with the virtual program is to provide an accredited education to the students of Randolph County while giving them the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities and athletics if they would choose,” he said. “This program comes at no cost to families, and students that graduate from this program will receive an accredited high school diploma issued by Randolph County Schools from their assigned district high school — whether it be Harman, Tygarts Valley, Pickens or Elkins High School.”

According to the West Virginia Department of Education, the mission of the virtual schooling is to provide consistent, high quality education for all students in West Virginia. By offering courses delivered via technology and providing options for implementation across the public school system, WV Virtual School initiatives help to bridge the barriers of time, distance and inequities for all West Virginia students.

“This is a new alternative for homeschool students that is free — there is no tuition cost — and there is no curriculum charges. These students will be enrolled as though they are enrolled in the home school for their district or zone,” Arbogast explained.

“This is a way for us to increase our enrollment and allow these kids to have the opportunity to come to dances, participate in athletics, clubs and band. The end goal is to see more students within Randolph County receive a Randolph County diploma.”

West Virginia licensed educators are employed to provide instruction in more than 250 courses — including advanced placement and honors courses, sign language, marine biology, economics and many more.

Arbogast explained students participating in virtual school can choose to enroll in part or full-day virtual school; meaning, students can choose to participate in courses at their respective high school for part of the day. Additionally, courses available to RCS students at the Randolph Technical Center are also available to virtual school students.

“As an example, students can be half time virtual and still go to our technical center,” Arbogast said.”

“Let’s say, two credits would be through the virtual courses and then, two credits at the technical center, where they actually go to the (Randolph Technical Center),” Beth Williams, virtual school facilitator for RCS, added.

Williams said students who participate in the virtual school can also receive in-person tutoring at no cost.

“We will also be offering tutoring for these kids, so it’s an opportunity for them to get free tutoring,” she explained.

At this time, virtual school is only available to Randolph County students in grades six through 12.

“Policy dictates that we have to run a successful, open virtual enrollment for one school year. If we show success and growth in that year, then we are permitted to open virtual up for elementary,” Arbogast explained.

In addition to rigorous academic courses, students who participate in virtual school in Randolph County will be offered the same counseling and medical services as any other RCS student.

“School counselors will offer their services,” Williams said. “Valley Health (Care) also sends counselors to the schools, and they are willing to offer services.”

Students who participate in virtual schooling will be required to complete major assessments, including the yearly standardized test, with an in-person test proctor.

“All major assessments are proctored by an in-person, licensed educator within Randolph County for all testing,” Arbogast explained.

The deadline for applications accepted by Randolph County Schools is June 30. Applications will be accepted at the central office, and anyone seeking additional information may contact RCS at 304-636-9150 or visit the West Virginia Department of Education’s website at www.wvde.us.

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