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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

How is PA Virtual different from other schools?

As one of the first cyber schools to open in Pennsylvania, PA Virtual has been in operation for over 20 years and has collected data and conducted research on best practices for cyber school instruction. PA Virtual teachers have expertise in virtual instructional practices and online classroom management, relating to and understanding students in a virtual setting.

Is there a cost to attend PA Virtual?

No. PA Virtual is a public school, which means we are funded by Pennsylvania Taxpayer dollars. We provide families with everything they need: a school-issued laptop, printer/scanner, headset, and curriculum. We even provide a monthly internet stipend of $35/month to help families with their internet costs.

Will a computer or materials be provided for my child?

Yes! PA Virtual provides the materials your child needs to learn at home, including a laptop, printer/scanner, headset, and curriculum. Our technology team also provides technical support and live troubleshooting.

What are my responsibilities as a parent or Learning Coach?

PA Virtual requires that there is a responsible adult (the Learning Coach) at home during the day to provide academic support to the student. Depending on the student’s grade level and individual needs, the level of learning coach involvement will vary for each family. Regardless of grade level, Learning Coaches can expect to:

  • Regularly assist student with completion of assignments and projects
  • Manage student’s daily schedule and actively work alongside them each day
  • Monitor student’s progress
  • Ensure that student fulfills required academic hours
  • Ensure that student consistently attends and actively participates in classes
  • Communicate with teachers and other members of support staff on a regular basis

In our Diamond Model of Partnership, the Learning Coach’s role is crucial to the student’s success at PA Virtual.

What opportunities are available for my child to socialize with other students at PA Virtual?

Besides engaging and interacting in the classroom, PA Virtual offers a variety of opportunities for students to interact with their peers outside of the classroom:

  • We offer fun and educational field trips across the state each month.
  • We provide service-learning opportunities through partnerships with local food banks, homeless shelters, and donation centers.
  • We have over 20 clubs where students meet virtually to share common interests. 
  • Our students can participate in their local school district’s extracurricular programs, such as athletic teams and social clubs.

Academic Questions

Does my child receive live instruction from a teacher?

There are two “modes of instruction” here at PA Virtual: synchronous and asynchronous. In the synchronous model, students log into their school-provided laptop each day and attend live classes with their teacher(s) and other PA Virtual students. Teachers will also assign some work to be completed outside of live classes.

Asynchronous students follow a daily/weekly plan but can work independently without attending live classes. In the asynchronous format, PA Virtual teachers plan the student’s coursework, supervise their progress, conduct regular check-ins, and provide support when needed.

During orientation, you will have the opportunity to learn more about these options and discuss which format would best fit your child’s needs.

What is a typical day like?

Students in synchronous classes will have a regular, consistent schedule each day, Monday-Thursday. Live classes generally occur between 8:10 and 2:50 with a scheduled lunch break. Asynchronous students will follow the teacher’s daily lesson plan, but they do not have daily live classes. All students complete their school work asynchronously on Fridays.

To see sample schedules for synchronous students, click here.

How much time is spent doing schoolwork each day?

Students complete an average of 5-6 hours of schoolwork per day; this average includes both instructor-led classes (as applicable) and independent work guided by the Learning Coach. The amount of time spent each day can vary, however, depending on grade level, subject matter, and your child’s individual learning style.

How long are synchronous classes?

Class time varies by grade level, subject, and learning objective for the daily lesson. Here is what you can expect from each program.

  • Elementary School: 30 - 50 minutes
  • Middle School: 50 - 80 minutes
  • High School: 55 minutes

Are there specific hours that I need to do asynchronous work?

Our staff is available between 8 am and 4 pm, so we recommend the majority of schoolwork be completed during this time. Meetings with your asynchronous teacher take place during the day and students must meet any assignment established by their teacher. Completing asynchronous work during the day also gives you the opportunity to take advantage of our support services and school administration.

Can asynchronous students work at their own pace?

Asynchronous students have a more flexible daily schedule.Students work with their Learning Coach to complete lessons and checkpoints on a weekly basis. Students can work more slowly or more quickly through their assignments as long as they meet the deadlines established by their teacher.  Students may need to attend individualized skill lessons as assigned by their teacher. Asynchronous students must still meet the hourly requirements and take the state assessments required by the state.

How is attendance taken?

Attendance is recorded every day when your child signs into Blackboard, our “virtual school building.” In addition, student attendance in synchronous and asynchronous classes is documented by the teacher and/or the Learning Coach. State law requires students to complete 900 school hours (K-6th) or 990 school hours (7th-12th) annually.

Do PA Virtual students participate in state-mandated testing?

Yes. As a public school, PA Virtual must adhere to all mandated state testing requirements set forth by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Students in 3rd-8th grades are required to take the PSSA exams in Math and English/Language Arts. Students in 4th and 8th grades also take the PSSA exams in Science. High school students are required to take the Keystone Exams in Algebra, Literature, and Biology. Both the PSSAs and Keystone Exams involve travel to an in-person testing site. Testing can last from 1 to 4 days, depending on the number of exams being taken. PA Virtual teachers and staff proctor at our testing sites.

Is physical education part of your curriculum?

Yes. Physical Education and Health classes are asynchronous at all grade levels. K-6 students are required to log up to one hour each week of structured, supervised activity. Students in grades 7 and 8 take a year-long health and physical education course, which requires the completion of lessons assigned by a state-certified teacher. High school students must take 1 credit of Physical Education and ½ credit of Health as part of their graduation requirements. Students work through assigned online course content and are also required to participate in exercise and be physically active.

Does PA Virtual provide special services for students with an IEP?

Yes, PA Virtual has a Special Education Department and we adhere to all applicable Special Education laws. Our certified Special Education staff provides supports and services to students who qualify by implementing an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that addresses the individual child’s needs. Students are provided with the strategies, tools, instruction, and services that will allow them to maximize their learning.

What if my child needs more advanced work? What enrichment opportunities are available?

Our curriculum is rigorous and provides daily opportunities for higher-level work. Your child’s teacher will also be able to provide individualized enrichment opportunities as needed. In addition, we offer Honors courses for 7th-12th grade students and AP courses for our High School students.

What kind of support is offered if my student is struggling?

For students needing more support, we offer drop-in homework help, tutoring, academic support teachers, recorded lessons, and supplemental assignments. Teachers for grades 5-12 also offer weekly office hours where they are available to help students.

Enrollment Questions

Is there a residency requirement?

Yes. You must be a resident of Pennsylvania to enroll at PA Virtual.

Is there an age requirement to enroll with PA Virtual?

Yes. PA Virtual enrolls school-age students, as defined by the PA Department of Education. This includes students from the age of 5 through 21.

To enroll in kindergarten, children must meet the age requirements of their resident school district.

When can my child start with PA Virtual? Should they stay enrolled in their current school?

PA Virtual enrolls students throughout the year. Please check our Enrollment Page to see if we are enrolling for the current school year or for the upcoming school year at this time.

Students enrolling during the school year must stay enrolled and attend their current school while completing the registration process. A potential start date will be discussed during your Application Phone Call. Once all paperwork is complete, you’ll be given an official start date with PA Virtual and a withdrawal date from your current school.

Students enrolling in spring/summer for the upcoming school year will begin their school year in late August, 1 week before current students return to classes. See our Academic Calendar for more information.

What documents are required to enroll?

In addition to completing the online registration and Enrollment Notification Forms, there are certain documents we are required to obtain before enrollment:

  • Proof of Residence
  • Student Proof of Age
  • Student Immunization Records
  • Parent Photo ID

To help us support your child, additional documentation may be needed. These documents may include:

  • Most Recent Report Card
  • Current Attendance Record
  • High School Transcripts
  • Most recent Homeschool Affidavit and Evaluation
  • Current Disciplinary Report
  • 504 Plan
  • Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
  • Evaluation/Re-evaluation Report (ER/RR)
  • Notification of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP)
  • Gifted Written Report (GWR)
  • Gifted Individual Education Plan (GIEP)
  • Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA)
  • Court-issued custody agreement
  • Court-issued guardian document

During your Application Phone Call, your Enrollment Specialist will learn more about your child and will determine which additional documents are needed. Please see our Enrollment Documents Checklist for more details.

I am experiencing housing instability. What information and supports are available at PA Virtual?

If you are experiencing housing instability, PA Virtual is committed to providing support. Please refer to our detailed document on Homeless Student Enrollment and Support Information, which outlines the available resources and guidance for students and parents in such situations.

Do you need more information?