SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Starting this August, Sioux City Community Schools will launch an independent enrollment center–offering a permanent virtual learning option for K-12 students.

“Any student, anywhere in Iowa may enroll for this program,” Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman said.

Students enrolled in the currently unnamed virtual school will each be given a laptop, and will engage in Common Core classes taught by certified district teachers.

“Students who are enrolled in the virtual school will participate in a dedicated online learning environment similar to what students have experienced during virtual learning in the pandemic,” Dr. Gausman said.

Shelley Hexom has two kids enrolled in the district–while they’re both back to in-person learning, Hexom says she’s all for a permanent virtual option.

“I’ve heard many parents say [whose] kids have been doing the virtual option that they feel like their kids are actually doing better,” Hexom said.

Hexom says while parents should consider the importance of the social aspects of school, she adds her kids still get to hang out with their classmates through virtual after-school activities.

“They have that chance to kind of interact with those clubs, so, I do think that having that as an option as part of this virtual school will be important,” Hexom said.

Dr. Gausman says he expects families to check out the virtual experience, but knows not everyone will like it in the end. He says providing a pathway back to traditional learning will be important in the process.

“We’ve got to look at the natural breaks in the school year, such as the end of a quarter, or the end of a semester to make that change,” Dr. Gausman said.