RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — COVID cases are declining in many places, but online learning is here to stay in at least one Middle Tennessee school district.

Rutherford County Schools is now accepting applications for next year’s virtual school.

They are in their second year of the optional online education program with about 400 students enrolled.

The principal of the virtual school, Jessica Supakhan, says the program was already “in the works” prior to the pandemic, but COVID fast-tracked the launch. Now, some families prefer this method of teaching.

“We’re really trying to build a really well-rounded school and give students all those marker events that they would experience in their traditional setting just from the comfort and convenience of learning from home,” Principal Supakahn said.

She said the program provides flexibility for students that are immunocompromised or those that work or train for sports during the day.

The Sowder family has one child enrolled in the virtual school and one enrolled in the traditional classroom.

Fourteen-year-old Elijah Sowder said when everyone moved to online learning during the pandemic, he discovered it was a better fit for him than a brick-and-mortar school.

“It just opened my eyes to how much more efficient and just easy everything could be,” Sowder said. “It’s just a lot more freedom to work the way that you want to work.”

Principal Supakahn says anyone can apply for the online school, but there is a lengthy application process and families should be aware that there is a lot of parental involvement.

“We’re really proud of our program. We feel like we’re building skills in these kids and qualities that they will carry with them into adulthood. Whether that be in the workplace or a college setting,” Supakahn said.

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