Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools is fully back to in-person learning, five days a week. While many families feel safe and relieved to send their children back to school, there are some families still worried about COVID-19 and Delta variant transmission prompting them to opt for online learning instead.

The PLSAS district recently launched Laker Online — a fully-online learning option for students in grades K-12 — this fall which has been in the making all summer.

Dr. Dan Edwards, director of teaching and learning, who is spearheading Laker Online, said 143 K-12 students are currently enrolled for virtual learning.

“We have five online teachers at the moment,” said Edwards. “We have three at the elementary level and two at the secondary level.”

Students enrolled in the online program will participate in daily synchronous and asynchronous learning with a licensed PLSAS teacher. Synchronous learning will follow a daily schedule similar to in-person peers. Classes will be utilizing the same curriculum as in-person peers as well.

Edwards said he is excited that the district is offering the program for families who have been requesting it.

“We’re excited that we were able to make this happen because we certainly have families that desire this for their child,” said Edwards. “So, the fact that we offer it and make it available to students and families is a good thing and we hope to continue to build and develop the program.”

Edwards also said at this time, Laker Online will only be offered the first semester, but the district does have plans to continue it throughout the year.

“Right now we have an agreement that we can offer it through this first semester. We intend to offer it for the duration of the school year but we have to submit documentation to the Minnesota Department of Education later in the fall once this is underway,” he said. “We would intend that also to apply for becoming an online provider moving forward, that too will be completed throughout the year into the winter months.”

Around 370 districts in Minnesota have received provisional approval for long-term virtual learning programs and a dozen other districts have pending applications.

Laker Online will also provide academic intervention support as necessary as well as social and emotional support appropriate per grade level. Student access and participation in co-curricular and extracurricular activities will also be available to Laker Online students, similar to their in-person peers.