Digital Academy and Leon County Virtual School: What’s the difference?

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CD Davidson-Hiers |Tallahassee Democrat | June 24, 2020

Digital Academy, Leon County Virtual School, Florida Virtual School — parents in Leon County are wondering what the different options mean for their children. 

As local school district officials hammer out the details for sending kids back to classrooms in the fall, here’s what to know about the online offerings: 

Digital Academy 

Acknowledging the cries of parents in the final weeks of school last year that there were too many logins and too many digital platforms to use for remote learning, the Leon County School district will use one district-wide online platform in the fall.

Called Canvas, it’s the same digital platform used by many universities to keep track of classes and course assignments, including at Florida State University. 

When district officials say “Digital Academy,” they mean an online platform tied to and maintained by each particular school in the district. Students whose families prefer their children stay home during the pandemic will keep up with course work developed by their own teachers at their home school.

This means that a student at Hartsfield Elementary School will remain a Hartsfield Hawk, even if they take all their courses through the Digital Academy, district officials say. If enough students opt for the Digital Academy, teachers may find they are teaching an entire class online, school officials have said. 

The district has said that parents will be able to choose each semester whether to send students back to school in-person or opt for the online academy.

Leon County Virtual School

LCVS is a franchise of the Florida Virtual School system and is considered a separate school in Leon County for elementary through high school students. 

Much like how local Subway stores are franchises of the national sandwich company, the local virtual school is staffed by Leon County Schools teachers but adheres to a curriculum developed by the Florida virtual school system, district administrators have explained. 

Students at the virtual school may graduate and receive a diploma like at any other high school in the county. 

In Leon County, Jessica Lowe is the principal and Arecia Shelton-Martin is the dean of curriculum at LCVS. Any parent who opts for the full-time virtual school would withdraw their student from their current school and enroll them in the virtual school.

The virtual school does offer part-time enrollment for students who are looking to take more classes than offered at their home school, or for those who need to repeat a class. 

Florida Virtual School 

The Florida Virtual School program is an online public school option for Florida elementary, middle and high school students.

Courses are free and accredited by Cognia and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, according to the FLVS website. 

The virtual school employs teachers from around the state. 

Full-time FLVS students may receive diplomas if they graduate from the online public school. Full- and part-time options are available. 

CD Davidson-Hiers is an education reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact her at 850-631-0958, or CDavidsonH@Tallahassee.com. Twitter: @DavidsonHiers