Online Learning: Support Through Disaster

Learning, Online & Blended

As you may have heard, last month much of the state of Louisiana was under water. Literally. Thousands of homes, schools, buildings and streets were under multiple feet of water and ultimately destroyed.

A good friend of mine sent me photos from the homes of his family members–the damage was unimaginable. Entire townships were evacuated, lives were forever changed for many people and, terribly, some lives even lost.

While there’s no doubt those towns will rebuild, and that the state of Louisiana will come together once again to help each other, it’s a tragedy that affects so many. One thing we often don’t consider in times like these are schools, students and learning. Many schools in the flooded areas will be closed as they clean up, so where do those students go?

This is where online learning comes in and can be a huge asset to states and the students living in them. Thanks to Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA), fewer students will be affected by school closures and will be able to continue their academics regardless of disaster looming around them.

Here’s more from a blog originally published on thinkTANK K12.


By Ana Berry

August 2016 has been a difficult month for the folks in the state I have called home for 31 years: Louisiana. As many as 40,000 homes and businesses have flooded and thousands of residents have been displaced.

The unfortunate irony of the timing is not lost on many as eleven years ago this month New Orleanians, like myself, had to flee our homes as Hurricane Katrina made a beeline for our town. Once again, residents are being forced to evacuate as areas of the state experience historic flooding. Some of my family and friends who moved from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina have, for a second time, suffered through a “once in a lifetime” flooding event.

As experience has shown me, these times can be challenging at best. Strangers become lifelines at the most unexpected moments. While evacuated, I once broke down and cried for fifteen minutes after a sales clerk in a department store asked if I needed help…did I ever! When I told her I was from New Orleans she hugged me, and in that moment, that hug was just what I needed.

Just as the sales clerk was there for me when I needed her, I believe that our online state school, the Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy (LAVCA), may be a similar type of lifeline for displaced families. While many brick and mortar schools have flooded and temporarily closed, LAVCA’s virtual school doors remain open.

Our students are able to continue schooling despite Louisiana’s state of emergency. Whether our students are working at a relative’s home, or the public library, they have access to a robust curriculum and classes taught by state certified teachers delivered virtually.

Perry Daniel, Head of School for LAVCA remarked, “It is our hope that Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy can provide some sense of normalcy to our students and families who have been affected by the flooding in our region.”

What many might not know is that LAVCA’s virtual program has online and offline components. Right now we have some LAVCA students who do not have access to any internet services, but are able to work offline in their print resources such as textbooks and workbooks. Once they have internet connection again, they can update their work in their Online School.

This provides students with a seamless continuation of their studies despite their circumstance. Some families may need to move from one relative’s home to another, or from one city to the next, while their home is rebuilt. Our program’s flexibility allows families the freedom to freely relocate without interruption to their school year. The benefits of online education are many when our families’ first priority is providing a stable environment and working to get back in their home.

As our state once again rebuilds, I am proud of the work LAVCA is doing to support our families and our staff. We remain steadfast in our mission to put Student’s First, even in times of crisis.

Help for Louisiana flood victims:

To donate money to United Way of Louisiana, you can text LAFLOOD to 313131 or visit cauw.org

To donate to the Red Cross, visit redcross.org, or call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

For more, see:


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Jessica Slusser

Jessica Slusser

Jessica Slusser is a Project Manager at Getting Smart. Follow Jessica on Twitter, @Jess_Slusser.

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