Cape Cod educators get rundown on virtual schools

About a dozen Cape and Islands educators learned more about what the new Commonwealth Virtual Schools Act would mean for their school systems during a presentation by the VHS Collaborative at the Cape Cod Collaborative in Osterville last Friday.

The act signed into law on Jan. 2 allows the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to authorize and oversee public virtual schools that enroll students from more than one school district. The act is intended to make more virtual school options available to all public school students.

The act is effective for the next school year, but the state education department will authorize only the Massachusetts Virtual Academy at Greenfield the first year. Other proposals will be accepted for 2014-15. Schools that offer part-time and full-time online options to their own students may continue to do so under the new law as the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District has been doing for many years.

Jim Dachos, director of educational partnerships at the VHS Collaborative, said the act establishes a framework for virtual education, provides more options and helps educators think about online education in different ways. “Some like it and some don’t,” he said. The VHS Collaborative has been providing online learning options and courses since 1996 and represent 50 schools districts. He said VHS wants to provide its expertise to districts regarding the new law.

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