How to Enroll in Cyber School

Right now, everyone knows someone like Amanda.

Amanda Scarfo is a mom from Uniontown. Like most of us, Amanda’s family routine has been thrown into disarray because of COVID-19.  Her job was initially untouched, then deemed non-essential, and then essential again.

However, for Amanda, the one certainty amidst the chaos has been her daughter Cheyarie’s education.

By pure coincidence, Amanda enrolled Cheyarie in the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School just a few weeks before schools across the state were shutdown. Cheyarie’s daily education schedule has remained nearly unchanged despite the outbreak. She begins her asynchronous classes each morning and continues throughout the day. On Monday, she had her first monthly call with her teacher.

Since it was a medical issue triggered by stress that led the family to PA Virtual, this stability for Cheyarie is particularly important.

Parents, if you’re anything like our families, you’re probably considering certain education options for your kids for the first time.

Since Governor Wolf’s shutdown order, all public schools—including (for no good reason) cyber schools—are technically “closed.” Additionally, legislation that passed the General Assembly this week cuts off funding for students who enroll in charter schools during the shutdown. Charter schools are therefore faced with the very real prospect of educating new students for free. Some schools report they’ve received 100 or more new student enrollment requests since March 13. Depending on the level of need for those students, charter schools could face losses of $250,000 or more from now until year end.

Despite the lack of rightful public funding, charter school operators feel it is their duty to continue educating all public-school students in their care.

As schools across the state work to develop remote continuity of education plans, Pennsylvania’s 15 cyber charter schools are largely instructing as usual. In fact, Cyber school CEOs collectively offered to help district schools develop online learning as early as March 9.

Parents always need a quality learning environment for their kids. But now that COVID-19 has changed our lives, remote learning is the only option many parents have.

The following cyber charter schools are currently offering “continuity of education.” That’s a fancy way of saying formal instruction can be conducted virtually between teachers and their students, even while administrative personnel offices remain closed.

Each school has its own enrollment procedure, so be sure to check the school’s website or call for info if you’re interested. Note that in some cases, enrollment may take seven–10 days to process.

Be sure to have documents ready, such as:

  • proof of age
  • birth certificate or passport
  • proof of residence
  • utility bill or mortgage statement (or lease agreement)
  • proof of Immunization
  • immunization records from prior school or doctor

Additionally, you can help schools get a jump on knowing how to serve your child by providing academic records, such as transcripts, report cards, 504 plans, and IEP plans.

Cyber schools can help families without equipment too. Recent surveys in Philadelphia and other areas reveal that thousands of families lack access to basic internet and computers. However, cyber charter schools provide all the required equipment for learning, plus a stipend for broadband internet access.

We can all have what Amanda has for Cheyarie, even in a time of crisis. The future waits for no one, and neither should ensuring that our children get the education they deserve right now. Wolf should reopen cyber charter schools—and allow every child’s education tax dollars to work for their education.