COLORADO SPRINGS — It was the first day of school for students in Academy District 20, but some weren't able to start due to being waitlisted for the online learning program.
"We saw enrollment, in one week, go from 700 all the way up to 2400. So we shut enrollment and there were people worried because it says they are on a waitlist," said Allison Cortez, Director of Communication at Academy School District 20. "What parents need to know about Journey K8 is that we are getting you into the online option."
Cortez said the district usually has a couple of schools that have a waitlist, but the COVID-19 pandemic made it worse.
"This year because we have a virtual start at many levels and an in-person start. There is a situation where students have been waitlisted either from their neighborhood school or our online program," said Cortez.
Even if students are on the waitlist, parents shouldn't worry about their child missing anything on the first day because they are doing a "soft start." There are assignments this week, but they won't be graded and attendance won't be taken.
"If they don't get into the program until Wednesday or Friday, that's okay because next week is when we really get going," said Cortez.
Right now, the district is contacting all parents who requested the Journey K8 option and are working with them one-on-one to get them enrolled. Although some students are starting online, the district says they are not "taking away" these student's seats at their school so they can eventually transition back to in-person learning.
"We don't feel like it's right to take away the student's spots just because they want to try online learning for a couple of weeks or months," said Cortez.
Ranch Creek Elementary and Chinook Trail Elementary are two schools in District 20 that fill up pretty quickly. If a family moves into a neighborhood and all of the seats are full at their neighborhood school, including the seats left open for those who move in throughout the summer, then the student is placed on a waitlist. The district then works with the family to get their student placed in another district school that has seats available.
"The goal is to get them into the district and get them into their neighborhood school as quickly as possible," said Cortez.
The district says they understand it can be frustrating for parents, but it helps to be flexible. Any parents who haven't heard back can contact them or go to the central registry in the administrative building.