By Carrie Wofford & Matthew Boulay on June 21, 2020



Since the coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S. in mid-March, virtual classrooms have replaced in-person classes. Teachers have had to pivot quickly to online learning and are doing their best to keep their students from falling behind. School districts had not prepared distance learning plans for an extended closure, and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned districts that remote learning may have to continue through the fall.

Virtual K-12 schools — most of them for-profit companies — have seized on an opportunity, descending on public school districts across the country to market their products and services for distance learning. Last year, enrollment in these virtual schools appeared to plateau amid complaints about poor outcomes. But now they are quickly ramping up their branding to capitalize on the COVID-19 crisis.


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