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Davis Joint Unified Starts Virtual Academy, Open To Surrounding Districts

DAVIS (CBS13) — While many kids get ready to hit the classroom, some are still opting to go virtual. A new online academy is giving parents across the region a chance to enroll their kids in one of the best local school districts.

Distance learning could be here for good. While some hated learning from home, for twins Amara and Areis Romero, online classrooms were a dream come true in 2020.

"It's flexible, you are having an easier time to do more things, explained Areis.

"I'm just more productive at home instead of the pressure in a classroom like a traditional school," said Amara.

Learning from behind a keyboard turned the sophomore high schoolers into straight a students. For mom, Tamara Dawley, it's not only about her daughter's health but convenience. Learning from home has cut their commute time.

"My girls have just blossomed in the last year," she explained. "We know they are here, it's more convenient for us and they are happy doing their school work."

Now her daughters and other students can stay logged in with the Davis Joint Unified School District offering a virtual academy for K-12th grade.

"That's what we have been working on, not just create a program that is an online school but a program that is an online school with opportunities, enrichment, relationship building, social-emotional learning. All the things that students need, especially when they are at a distance," explained Rob Kinder, principal at Davis School for Independent Learning.

Instead of sitting in classrooms and libraries, students can get the same level of education that draws many to the district from home even if they live outside the district with a mix of real-time instruction and on-demand learning.

"We knew there was a niche there and we knew that we could attract students not only in our community but also from surrounding communities as well," Kinder explained.

As a designated "School of Choice," students from surrounding counties can enroll and participate in sports, proms, arts programs and other activities. Students living in a county that borders Yolo County, including, Solano, Napa, Colusa, Sutter and Lake Counties can enroll. The district will get money for every student that enrolls.

"We pride ourselves on being a really strong school district with a lot of programs, opportunities, choice, flexibility, this is another we can offer to our community and the surrounding area as well," he said.

Around 80 already are planning to go virtual, 20 percent those from other counties.

"That is our hope that this is more than a program that students log into every morning until they go back to school, that this is a permanent option in our community," said Kinder.

Programs for students in grades 7-12 will include the following:

  • personalized social-emotional learning
  • flexible, asynchronous, 100% online curriculum
  • Students and parents/guardians will have 1:1 bi-monthly meetings
  • Students will receive small group support, tutorials and office hour opportunities.
  • will be able to take community college courses while enrolled.

Programs  for students in grades K-6 will include the following:

  • daily interaction with teachers
  • learn in whole groups, small groups, and one-on-one instruction.
  • Students will have bi-monthly parent/student/teacher check-ins.
  • live learning opportunities each day.

Dawley believes learning online regardless of where you live, could be mutually beneficial.

"It's awesome, Davis is definitely known for being up there in status," she explained. "I feel like it is time for that because some kids don't do well in school and being there all the time in person," said Dawley.

Kinder hopes the program will last far beyond the pandemic as a resource for many different communities. The district is hoping for open enrollment with no capacity.

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