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Parents across Missouri are trying to figure out what school will look like for their children this fall after many districts announced their plans for reopening earlier this week.
A majority of urban and suburban districts are offering families two or three options: return to a brick-and-mortar school full time, use a hybrid-program where students attend school for two days a week and learn remotely for the other three, or access education completely virtually from home.
What most districts are not telling parents is that regardless of what reopening plan is announced, every Missouri parent already has access to state-approved, full-time virtual education programs through the Missouri Course Access and Virtual Education Program (MOCAP).
If you feel safer having your children learn from home this fall, both MOCAP providers and your local school district will be offering classes that meet Missouri learning standards and are taught by teachers certified to teach in Missouri.
So what is the difference between a MOCAP virtual education course or program and the virtual education being offered by many school districts this fall?
One big question is the security of your student’s data. Anytime you take a class online you create a new level of databases, servers, and personnel who have access to a wide range of information about your child.
While your local district school will do its best to safeguard your child’s information, they will likely be using systems that have been created during the summer in a mad dash to figure out some way to provide safe instruction this fall.
MOCAP providers, on the other hand, have gone through a strict evaluation process required by DESE for the past two years, not to mention cybersecurity requirements from other states, that ensures your child’s information in protected.
Similarly, MOCAP providers have spent decades developing a curriculum that is optimized for an online learning experience. The programs they offer use gamification techniques to keep students engaged in a virtual learning environment, and may be designed to help instructors monitor student success in real-time so that they can jump in and help a student when they are struggling.
Virtual programs offered directly through districts, on the other hand, will in most cases be offered by local teachers following the same curriculum offered for in-person instruction. These courses may give your child a sense of familiarity, but most likely will not be designed to utilize all of the tools possible in a virtual environment to keep your child engaged in learning.
Remember, the virtual options being offered directly through your district are designed as an emergency response to the pandemic, while MOCAP providers have been providing student success across the country for many years.
Finally, there is the question of what course will be available for your student.
If you choose a virtual offering provided directly through your district your child will likely be limited to the classes already being offered in that district, and may even have fewer options. Electives like band, choir, and art may be cut from district virtual programs as the districts deal with staffing issues and have to figure out ways to offer classes that require more in-person interactions virtually.
MOCAP providers, on the other hand, offer a wide range of courses including Advanced Placement courses, more unique foreign languages, and higher-level math and science classes. Offering these course options is, in fact, the reason the program was created in the first place.
To learn more about virtual education, MOCAP, and get help getting enrolled in one fo these programs, please visit a new micro-site the CEAM Team has developed to help parents during these uncertain times.