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At Downey Unified, we offer our students the best… because they deserve the best. We know that what’s best for our students varies by individual. That’s why we’re proud to now offer an online learning option to our elementary students. Our online elementary students will receive the same outstanding 21st-century education as their peers but in an environment that works better for them and their families.

What makes us different?

Though completely online, Downey Virtual Elementary mirrors a traditional school day like you’d expect at our other Downey Unified elementary campuses. Our students receive a full day of teacher-led online classroom time five days a week. Students will enjoy virtual field trips, book fairs, school picture days, and even spirit days!

Teacher Led

100% Teacher-led Class Time

virtual field trips

Virtual Field Trips

school spirit

Traditional School Spirit Events

quality curriculum

Quality Curriculum

Explore from Home

An online classroom doesn’t mean you can’t explore the world around you! Online learning gives our students a unique opportunity to visit places they may otherwise not have a chance to see. We’ve visited the Getty Museum, Griffiths Observatory, Cabrillo Beach, and more through our virtual trips! These budget-friendly trips make it easier than ever before for our teachers to bring lessons to life for our students on location.

Interested in the Virtual Academy?

A typical day of school

Downey Virtual Elementary will mimic the schedule of in-person students, but be fully online. Our teachers do not split their time teaching online and in-person; their whole focus is on their online students.

An asynchronous assignment is usually assigned for the teacher’s office hour time when the teacher is available to provide online assistance to those who need it.

Sample Schedule

Morning Session: 8:30 am – 11:30 am
Lunch: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Afternoon Session: 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Teacher Office Hours: 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Check out our information session

Learn more from our Director, Karlin LaPort as she answers some frequently asked questions about our Virtual Academy.

Thanks to all the team at DUSD [for being] such a dedicated team. Truly, I am proud to say that I am extremely impressed with all that I have seen with DUSD’s online schooling.
~ Virtual Elementary Parent ~

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Virtual Academy part of Downey Unified?

Yes. The Virtual Academy was established in 2021–2022 as a new school in Downey Unified. It will expand to grades K–12 in 2022–2023.

Who is eligible for Downey Unified Virtual Academy?

Any current Downey Unified student as well as out-of-district students who are enrolling in the district for the first time.

Who teaches in the Virtual Academy?

All teachers are fully credentialed, current Downey Unified teachers. Our Virtual Elementary teachers are teaching 100% online; meaning they DO NOT split their time teaching online and in person.

What do parents and students need in order to participate in our Virtual Academy?

Downey Unified currently provides 1:1 devices to all its students. When enrolled in Downey Unified Virtual Academy, you are part of our Downey Unified family. Families that are new to Downey Unified will be provided with a device upon registering for classes, through our Technology Department. The device will be used to attend class and submit assignments.

In addition, each teacher may have their own supplies depending on their planned instructional activities. Distribution for these supplies through drive-thru distribution or by appointment will be announced to students’ families.

If we choose online learning, can my student remain at their current school?

No. If you select the online learning option, your student will be unenrolled from their current school of residence and enrolled in the Downey Unified Virtual Academy.

Is is there a deadline to enroll?

While enrollment in the Virtual Academy is ongoing, we request that families make their enrollment decision now to ensure that we are properly staffed to begin the school year.

If my student needs to attend summer school this summer, would they attend the Virtual Academy?

No. For summer school this year, your student would attend through their school of residence. Virtual Academy enrollment would begin in August.

Who can enroll?

Any K–12 DUSD student may enroll. Students who reside outside of DUSD need to complete the interdistrict transfer paperwork with their current district of residence before they are able to enroll.

Can students with an IEP enroll in the Virtual Academy?

Yes, however, before a student with an IEP can enroll, the IEP team must meet to recommend the student for the Virtual Academy.  An individual with exceptional needs, as defined in California Education Code Section 56026, shall not participate in independent study, unless if the pupil’s individualized education program developed pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 56340) of Chapter 4 of Part 30 specifically provides for that participation. If a parent or guardian of an individual with exceptional needs requests independent study pursuant to section 51745(a)(6), the pupil’s individualized education program team shall make an individualized determination as to whether the pupil can receive a free appropriate public education in an independent study placement. Please contact the case manager at your school of residence to discuss your request.

Will there be a master agreement to sign in order for my student to attend the Virtual Academy?

Yes. All families will need to agree to and sign a Master Agreement within the first 30 days of enrollment or they cannot attend the Virtual Academy.

How do Virtual Academy teachers communicate with parents/guardians about their student’s progress?

As is the case with in-person learning, different teachers have different preferred modes of communication with parents which may include email, the Class Dojo app, Canvas, the DUSD app, etc.

What sort of support will Virtual Academy students need throughout the day from their parent/guardian when they are logged-in class?

Depending on the Virtual Academy's student’s grade level and ability, it is helpful to have an adult available during instructional time in order to help direct students and aid with technology, such as navigating Zoom or the Google Classroom/Canvas platforms. Older students may need less assistance as they are familiar with the platforms and online resources.

We ask that all parents/guardians assist their Virtual Academy students to be ready to start their day by logging in on time with a fully charged device.

Will my student have access to free meals?

Yes, Downey Unified has assigned two free meal pick-up locations for our Virtual Academy students, Monday through Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the two following schools:

              Carpenter Elementary School – 9439 Foster Rd., Downey, CA 90242

              Rio San Gabriel Elementary School – 9338 Gotham St., Downey, CA 90241

How is attendance taken?

Attendance is work-based, meaning students must complete all their assignments to receive 100% attendance credit. If students regularly miss assignments or do not show up for synchronous classes, their placement in the Virtual Academy will be evaluated and they may be required to return to in-person instruction.

How many hours will my child be online each day?

The amount of time a student will participate in learning activities whether online with a teacher or independently online or offline will be roughly equal to a student attending school in person.

Can a student transfer back to their school of residence for in-person instruction?

Yes. Students may have the opportunity to transfer back to their school of residence at the semester as long as there is capacity at the site. If classrooms are full, students may be placed at another Downey Unified school.

Are there opportunities for in-person learning at the Virtual Academy?

Students in middle and high school can work in our classrooms or visit our Student Lounge, a student-centered space where they can take advantage of comfortable study spaces, snacks, and even take breaks for a game of ping pong.  We plan to expand our in-person lab science learning options and field trip opportunities for the 22-23 school year.

What role do parents play?

Parents are true partners in the Virtual Academy. Parents of elementary-age students need to be hands-on and involved in guiding students and assisting with projects or schoolwork that may be completed both on and away from the computer. Parents are essential in helping to monitor their students daily to ensure they are making weekly progress and are attending classes regularly.

Will the Virtual Academy provide technology and supplies?

Yes. Students will receive a school-issued device for use at home and supplies will be available for all students.

Interested in the Virtual Academy?