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Rapid City Area Schools creates pilot program for virtual learning

Although it didn’t stem from distance learning, the new program, which will be offered to students from kindergarten through 12th grade, will use many of the same learning options like zoom, google meetings, and Canvas.
Published: May. 24, 2021 at 5:38 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - After a year of distance learning, Rapid City Area Schools is launching a pilot program, to give students and families another option, virtual or online schooling.

Traditional, in-person schooling isn’t the best option for everyone, a lesson Rapid City Area Schools learned not just during the pandemic but over the years.

“So we know that traditional school doesn’t work for every kid and so as part of Rapid City’s commitment to providing different pathways to success and graduation,” said David Swank, principal at Canyon Lake Elementary. “The virtual school is just one more option for kids and families to progress through school.”

Although it didn’t stem from distance learning, the new program, which will be offered to students from kindergarten through 12th grade, will use many of the same learning options like zoom, google meetings, and Canvas.

“Our K-5 program is going to be a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning with Rapid City Area Schools teachers who are dedicated to the online program,” said Swank. “The middle school program is going to be through Black Hills Online Learning with a check-in point through RCAS and then for the high schools, those classes will be run through Rapid City High School, using Rapid City High School teachers.”

In order to get the program up and running on all levels, RCAS decided to use Black Hills Online Learning for middle schoolers for the first year of the pilot program, the district expects 30 middle schoolers to take part as well as about 50 elementary and high school students

“And that is with the idea that we want to make sure that the kids who choose this are going to be successful in that and that we have time to refine the program before growing it to scale,” said Swank. “So what it looks like in the fall in terms of students is hopefully just a small piece of what it will look like in three to 10 years.”

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