Iberia Parish prepares to expand virtual learning option

Come August, Iberia Parish middle and high school students can log into — rather than walk into — their classroom.

The Iberia Virtual program launches in August as an option for students in grades seven through 12.

Carey Laviolette, Iberia Parish School System assistant superintendent of instruction, said the program is aimed at students who are independent, self-motivated learners and home-school families seeking educational resources.

“We still believe in face-to-face instruction, but this is for students who for some reason, the face-to-face or the traditional learning environment was not for them,” Laviolette said.

The program is also expected to attract students a few credits shy of completing their diploma, but for personal reasons may have dropped out or are considering dropping out.

“We may have some students who are two credits short and they have to get a job,” Laviolette said, noting the program will provide such students with an opportunity to complete their graduation requirements.

Iberia joins its neighboring school districts in St. Martin, St. Mary, and Vermilion all of which started virtual programs for students in the past year. Lafayette Parish School System is considering a virtual school option for the upcoming school year.

Laviolette said the district currently offers online course options for students who failed a course or need to take additional courses to stay on academic track with their peers.

“It’s a sign of the times,” Laviolette said of the district’s expansion of its virtual learning options. “Education, as well as a lot of many other things, are becoming virtual, so it’s going to provide students with an opportunity to be engaged in learning on weekends, evenings at their convenience.”

As part of the program, students can opt to travel to the Iberia Virtual program site, housed in a computer lab at New Iberia Senior High from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., or complete their schoolwork from anywhere they choose to study.

Laviolette said the district has built in safeguards to ensure the program is a right fit for students and that they’re successful in the program.

Students will receive face-to-face support from the program’s coordinator, who will closely monitor students’ progress, and a teacher will be available at the program site from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Students and their parents also will be required to take an orientation course before starting the program, she said.

The district is also producing “help lessons,” videos on content areas, such as common skills that students may need assistance with, and is posting the videos on its website.

About 200 letters were sent to home-school families in the district, and some of those families have expressed interest in the program, Laviolette said.

She said registration information for the program will be available later this week on the district’s website and available under the “Students” section at: http://www.iberia.k12.la.us.