Wyoming Virtual Academy Sees Enrollment Surge Amid Pandemic

Aug 28, 2020

Credit Wyoming Virtual Academy

The Wyoming Virtual Academy (WYVA) offers free, public education to K-12 students in the state seeking an alternative to in-person classrooms. And with the pandemic still surging across the country, many Wyoming families are taking advantage.

The academy's Head of School, Joe Heywood, said they've enrolled about 1,100 students this year, up from around 500 just last year.

"We have more than doubled in size because of [COVID-19]," he said. "And we are headed towards tripling in size in the not too distant future, in a few weeks."

The recent surge in interest presents some challenges for the virtual school. But Heywood said the academy is rising to those challenges.

"We've hired about 30 additional staff over the last month and another principal, and we're really trying to get our head around this big influx of students," Heywood said.

Heywood said an additional 400 student applications are currently being processed.

This year is unprecedented, Heywood added, but the hope is that it can introduce new families to the online school.

"There were a lot of families out there looking for something. And once they find WYVA, they actually like it," he said. "And so we're hoping that sticks with families and they'll want to stay in even if COVID goes away some day."

Heywood said the Virtual Academy is more structured than one might think, with weekly student assemblies and even field trips.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Jeff Victor, at jvictor@uwyo.edu