Pandemic prompts more students to go virtual


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Sophomore Perrie Judd and fourth grader Marshall Judd work on their assignments for Launch. Perrie Judd joined the Launch program to protect her family.

Some students have opted for online learning through Springfield Public Schools’ Launch program. This was offered to students as an optional alternative to attending live classes at WHS as part of COVID-19 precautions. 

  “Our district sought them [Launch] out. We had been hearing how good this organization was, and it was local,” high school counselor Tyler Richardson said. “After having a lot of problems with our old vendor, and it taking days to get students signed up, I requested we look elsewhere for credit recovery. From there, it grew to students taking foreign languages, to where we are at now with virtual school.” 

    “The district paid a one-time fee to become a partner district with Launch back in 2019.  The district is now charged per student, per course, per semester and is unaffected by COVID-19.  The funding for all MOCAP (Missouri Course Action Program) expenditures comes from Fund 1 (General Revenues & Expenses), which is the same fund that pays for textbooks, classroom repairs, teacher supplies, and just about everything else except for salaries and benefits,” assistant Superintendent Christian Meier said. 

    Meier added that the program’s tuition varies, depending on the grade-level. Tuition for elementary students (K-5) is $4500/year per student.  Middle school courses (6-8) are $225/semester/course per student.  High school tuition is very similar to the middle school with tuition running $225/half credit per student.

   According to Meier as of Friday, Sept. 28, WHS had 46 full-time Launch virtual students enrolled. This does not count those students who are only taking one or two classes through Launch in the library.

   Some students chose the online learning option due to concerns about COVID-19. 

     “My sister has a disability and I can’t get her exposed because she wouldn’t do well if she got it,” sophomore Perrie Judd said. 

  Judd said she has adapted to a new way of school.

   “There’s not really a schedule to it, like I don’t have to do anything at a certain time, just the assignments have due dates, and I don’t really have any zoom meetings with my teachers. I have like two a week,” she said.

     Some other students choose the program because they thought it would be an easier option or have a more flexible schedule. 

  “I get to sleep in every day and stay up as long as I want to. Also, I get to work more hours,” senior Jaelyn Swisher said. “Personally, I prefer online. It’s great being able to go at my own pace and do as much as I want whenever . . . I do miss some of my teachers though.”

    “I stay up as late as I want and sleep in until I have to start getting ready for work,” senior Cody Lytton said.

   Students on the virtual learning platform have noticed some benefits and drawbacks of online learning. The most common benefit is that they can sleep in and also do their work any time they want. Some students miss the benefits of live classes.

   “It’s difficult not having teacher instructions and not being able to ask questions exactly when you need them, because they usually have classes during the day, but other than that, not really,” Judd added. “I miss seeing all my friends the most and just going and having classes with my friends.”

    “Launch is the only MOCAP (Missouri Course Action Program) option that was actually created and is fully operated by a Missouri school district (Springfield Public Schools in Springfield, MO).  This gives Springfield Public Schools full control over every aspect of the program, including the content, hiring, enrollment, and curriculum.  In contrast, all of the other 11 MOCAP options have been ‘authorized’ by a Missouri school district.  This means that a Missouri school district has agreed to vouch for the program, which then makes the program eligible to be accessed by any student in the state. The ‘authorizing’ school district has little, if any, input or control over the curriculum, teachers, or administration,” Meier said.