Cedar Rapids Community School District launches its own online virtual academy

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Cedar Rapids Community School District has launched its online virtual academy.

Leaders say they wanted to keep up with the competition.

"I think one of the things that we really saw was students were leaving us to take classes at Clayton Ridge (online classes through Iowa Virtual Academy) and Cam," said John Rice, the executive director of Teaching and Learning with the Cedar Rapids Community School District.

Right now the Cedar Rapids district's program is only for high schoolers. In the past, the district only offered online classes so students could make-up credits, but school leaders said they realized they needed to expand it for kids who have health needs or bad anxiety.

Students have laptops to take home with personal hotspots to connect to WiFi. Then they watch pre-recorded videos and take online quizzes. They check in with their teachers, as well.

There is no extra cost to enroll in the academy.

Students can talk to their high school counselor about signing up.

Leaders say students still being connected with the district is what sets their online academy apart.

"I think one of the big differences between us and some of the online options in the state is if you need help, you can go to the high school and get support from that teacher at any time,” said Rice. “Which is not something you can do necessarily if you're taking it fully distanced from a school that's 100 miles away."

Students are still able to play sports for their high school and go to school events. So far, there are 21 students taking 36 classes through the online academy.