The rise of virtual juggernauts like Epic Charter Schools triggered a whirlwind of frantic discussions at other public school districts about how to make them more appealing to students. 

Reported enrollment at Epic, the state’s largest virtual school with blended learning centers in Tulsa and Oklahoma that opened in 2018, increased at least 62% from 2017-18 to 2018-19.

Many students in traditional school districts have no idea they have the option to join the virtual classroom. Several officials told Tulsa World better advertising would help virtual programs at traditional schools grow faster, be more competitive and meet the needs of struggling students.

Union’s Gart Morris said virtual school programs aren’t for everyone and cautioned those who assume it’s easier than going to class.

“This program is really designed for students who are highly self-motivated and can regulate their time,” he said. “Part of the misinformation about virtual school with some students, I think, is that they believe they can just get on the computer for a couple hours a day, and that’s how they get their education. That isn’t how this works.”