Online student enrollment at all time high in Colorado - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Online student enrollment at all time high in Colorado

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Tina Windebank's family is rounding out its 18th year of homeschooling.

Her youngest, who is in high school, now splits his time between homeschooling and private school.

Windebank says with each of her children, she home schooled them during grades K-8, and then let them decide which high school they wanted to go to.

"we can't protect our kids from everything,"   So for us, we don't feel like we're doing anything foolish putting them out 'vulnerably,'" Windebank told News5.

"The schools are doing what they can," she added.

But she says other parents have been more apprehensive about making the same transition with their children, because of threats and attacks being made on other schools.

"I help a lot of young moms who are just beginning their journey of 'where should I send my kids to school?'  And now it's 'oh my goodness, is my child going to face this at such a young age?'"

Despite those concerns, home schooling numbers in Colorado are the lowest we've seen in five years, coming in at just over 7,100 students for the 2017-2018 school year.

Online enrollment, though, is at an all time high across the state--at nearly 20,000 students statewide.

"For next year, we have 160 students enrolled and a waiting list of about 40 families," said Principal Nathan Gorsch, with Academy Online High School.

He describes the curriculum as a "hybrid" because some classes are online and others are completed in a small classroom setting.

The goal is always to make sure students feel safe.

"Here I feel more secure because we know the students better," said Junior Ashley Hayes.

But Gorsch says safety concerns are not why so many people are making the switch.

"A lot of our families are seeking us out because of flexibility," he explained.

The curriculum is especially appealing to young actors, artists, and athletes--like twin sisters Ashley and Emily Hayes, who travel the country for BMX races.

"With this program, I can take my work with me because it's all online.  So I just have to bring my computer to my races and do the work there," said Emily Hayes.

Gorsch says this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

"What we're hoping to do is create a model or prototype of what 'the school of the future' could look like," he said.

For more information on how to enroll a student online, click here.

For more information on homeschooling, click here.

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