We know there’s been some confusion about our new Downey Unified Virtual Academy and this school year’s Online Learning option. We want to clear up your questions and help you understand the differences so you can choose what’s best for your child. 

Downey Unified Virtual Academy is a brand new program launching this school year. It offers students the ability to transition their schooling to an online, independent study model. With this model, students have the flexibility to move through lessons at their own pace and at times that work best for them. 

This year’s Online Learning option, like last year’s Distance Learning, is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a temporary option that allows students to attend class virtually from home. 



  • For this first year, Downey Unified Virtual Academy will be available for students in 7th through 10th grade, and the program will eventually open up to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • This year’s Online Learning option is available to all grade levels.


The difference between our new Virtual Academy and Online Learning programs as detailed on this page.
  • With Downey Unified Virtual Academy, students can set their own hours and complete lessons at their own pace. The program is designed for students who have responsibilities outside of school, such as part-time jobs or professional roles (sports, acting, singing, etc.) that make it challenging to attend school during traditional hours.
  • Meanwhile, Online Learning will follow a similar routine to last year’s remote learning schedule and students will continue to move through lesson plans as a class.

Learning Plans & Support:

  • The Virtual Academy will set an individualized learning plan for each student. Since there are no set school hours, students will instead have weekly check-ins with their teachers and have access to one-on-one assistance during set in-person or virtual office hours.
  • Online Learning will follow a traditional classroom study plan following school curriculum. Support will be available just as it is on campus from your student’s teachers and administrative team.

Short Term vs. Long Term:

  • As stated earlier, Online Learning is a temporary measure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Online Learning is an option for families who want to keep their child(ren) at home for remote learning until the pandemic has passed. 
  • Students participating in Downey Unified Virtual Academy will also attend school remotely, but not because of the pandemic. The Virtual Academy is for students who need more flexibility in their schedule or long to move at their own pace through lessons. When the pandemic ends, Virtual Academy students will continue their education through this program rather than returning to a traditional school environment. Virtual Academy students do have some hybrid options, but the majority of their studies will take place remotely or at our Student Lounge & Resource Center.

Learn more about the Downey Unified Virtual Academy by clicking here!

As a reminder, Online Learning is an option for this school year for families who may not be ready to return to campus. Our campus will be open in person as planned this school year for those families who want to return to school.