Post-COVID Learning: Irvine Virtual Academy

Staffed+by+teachers+across+the+Irvine+Unified+School+District%2C+the+Irvine+Virtual+Academy+offers+a+larger+course+variety+for+students+to+enroll+in+compared+to+those+traditionally+offered+at+individual+schools.

Jaein Kim

Staffed by teachers across the Irvine Unified School District, the Irvine Virtual Academy offers a larger course variety for students to enroll in compared to those traditionally offered at individual schools.

Irvine Virtual Academy will become a permanent learning model offered at Irvine Unified (IUSD) schools starting next semester. The IVA administration made this decision after the beneficial impact and positive feedback from students and teachers alike amid distance learning accommodations, according to Director of Alternative Education Rebecca Roberts.

IVA replaces the Emergency Distance Learning curriculum and provides students with a yearlong opportunity for virtual instruction. The San Joaquin-based program consists of instructors from across IUSD and features live Zoom lectures (synchronous learning) and independent online assignments (asynchronous learning). 

Around 40% of IUSD students opted for IVA this year, making it the largest public school in the world with over 13,000 students, according to Director of Virtual Learning Kris Linville.

“There’s a special student that thrives in an environment like in IVA,” Linville said. “The goal is to keep it going for our kids … It is really a special environment for some kids where in the past, they might not have done well in school, and now they’re doing well.”

Alterations to a permanent IVA model are in discussion by the IVA administration. The long-term program will be slated to balance asynchronous and synchronous learning more efficiently and be adjusted according to feedback from the 2020-21 school year. Future IVA students will take online classes at Creekside High and be linked to an individual school site for school activities.

For many students, IVA has proven effective in its educational curriculum and staving off the spread of COVID-19 in Irvine’s vulnerable communities. 

I feel like IVA is easier, primarily because I feel that I study and focus better at home.”

— Brian Chen

“I have family members that are immunocompromised, most importantly my little sister who is asthmatic,” senior and IVA student Brian Chen said. “I feel like IVA is easier, primarily because I feel that I study and focus better at home.”

Students will also receive an opportunity to switch learning models for the second semester. The IUSD school board will release more information later this November, according to Roberts

“We’re committed to honoring as many requests from families as possible,” Roberts said. “The movement between models will be dependent upon space and staffing ability to maintain the environment.”