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Connections Academy to Launch Virtual Schools in 3 States

Starting in the 2024-2025 academic year, tuition-free remote instruction will be available in grades K-12 across Pennsylvania, grades K-10 in Southern California, and K-11 at Louisiana R-II School District in Missouri.

Middle-aged distance teacher having video conference call with pupil using webcam. Online education and e-learning concept. Home quarantine distance learning and working from home.
Connections Academy, a for-profit franchise of online K-12 schools, plans to launch new virtual learning options this fall for students statewide in Pennsylvania, across Southern California and in a single school district in Missouri.

According to a news release this week, all three will offer a tuition-free, full-time public school program in the 2024-2025 school year. Pennwood Cyber Charter School will be open to K-12 students statewide in Pennsylvania, Connections Academy at Springs will serve grades K-10 in Southern California, and Missouri Connections Academy will add another virtual program to its existing partnership with the Louisiana R-II School District in Northern Missouri, initially serving grades 7-11 and then expanding to grade 12 for the 2025-2026 school year.

Connection Academy’s parent company Pearson, based in New Jersey, contracts with state education departments and public school districts to provide tuition-free online options for families who prefer remote learning. The grade levels served, course offerings and part-time or full-time offerings vary by jurisdiction, but the news release said the company serves more than 100,000 students in grades K-12 across 40 virtual public schools in 29 states. It also provides digital content, assessment tools and data services to customers in about 200 countries.

“Families are looking to educate their children in flexible and personalized educational programs that mirror the evolving landscape for college, career and workplace environments,” Lorin Thomas-Tavel, managing director of Pearson virtual schools, said in a public statement. “Pearson’s support of these new school programs ensures students access to opportunities that provide enriching academic and co-curricular experiences designed to help them discover their passions, and master the curriculum and skills needed for success in life and career.”

According to Connections Academy’s website, Pennwood Cyber Charter School’s program will consist of 30 percent online instruction and 70 percent offline time, where the students work independently. It also offers career and college courses starting at the middle-school level and has partnerships with Drexel University’s Goodwin College of Professional Studies and the Cook Center for Human Connections, a nonprofit in Utah that provides counseling and mental health support.

The Pennwood and Missouri programs will both involve Connections Academy’s college and career-readiness courses and industry partnerships.

The Connections Academy website does not yet have a specific page for its online charter school for the Connections Academy at Springs program for Southern California, but it says the socialization and extracurricular activity opportunities will include virtual clubs and in-person field trips. It also lists a variety of “pop up” events, ranging from talent shows to diversity seminars and presentations on “gross science.” Connections Academy also participates in competitive esports, and its website directs students who are interested in competitive scholastic athletics to ask their local school districts about eligibility and participation.