Back to school at home: 3,000 attend online academy in Oregon

Back to school at home: 3,000 attend online academy in Oregon »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - For 5th grader Shelby Kurien, school is waiting downstairs.

Shelby is one of a growing number of kids that go to Oregon Connections Academy, a virtual charter public school.

Thousands of students from around Oregon went back to school Tuesday, but they didn't get on a bus or rush to a classroom.

They stayed at home.

Begun 7 years ago with a few hundred students, enrollment now tops 3,000 statewide K-12 at the Connections Academy.

Math, English, science?  It's all online.

"The flexibility of the program and their pace at learning is an integral part of this program," said Carolyn Kurien, Shelby's mother and learning coach.
 
Student Shelby added, "I think my favorite thing would be that there's no time limit that you have for doing lessons.  You can take all the time you need."

Students have live lessons online with their teachers one per week. Teachers and parents stay in touch at least twice a month to make sure students stay on track.

"But I'm also available to them every day if they need to talk or they have some questions through email,"

Carolyn Kurien said Oregon Connections Academy may not be for all kids, but the big payoff comes in those "ah-ha" educational moments at home.

"Being able to see that they're getting it, that moment where the words are coming into their mind and they're actually saying it," she said.

And don't worry about a lack of P.E. for the kids: They go to a marshal arts institute five days a week for karate lessons.