Edina Virtual Pathway provides alternative learning options for students


Anabelle Jakala

Art By: Anabelle Jakala. A student works online at a desk.

Lynn-Clara Tun, Staff Writer

Following distance learning during the pandemic, Edina Public Schools has joined other Minnesota districts in establishing a permanent online-learning option for students. The new program, Edina Virtual Pathway, allows students from both Edina and the rest of Minnesota to take flexible courses that meet their unique needs.

There are two options in Edina Virtual Pathway at the high school level: comprehensive (full-time online students) and supplementary (students taking some classes online while still enrolled and attending school in person). With a wide variety of core, enriched, and AP courses, EVP students are given flexibility within their learning styles. 

EVP follows the asynchronous learning style, allowing students to work on assignments at a time of their choosing. While it can be uncomfortable to ask a teacher to slow down during class, screencasts allow students to have greater control over the pacing. Attendance is tracked through course engagement and completion of daily work, and a period similar to student prep is offered during the school day to part-time EVP students. Students typically complete EVP classwork, as well as assignments in other classes, during their designated class hour. EVP also partners with Minnesotan health providers Fraser and Relate Counseling Center to provide mental and chemical health care when needed.

Students and teachers are still adapting to this new program. “[EVP] takes some getting used to, and the first few days I couldn’t access the Schoology course which set me behind,” freshman Natalie Lu said. “Taking a class online helps me balance my school life and activities.”

Some teachers are having difficulty maintaining their teaching styles and relationships with students. “As an educator, [what] I’m trying to figure out myself is: how can I establish relationships with students who I never, in theory, meet in person? It’s a learning process for sure. I would say right now it is more of a challenge and I don’t have all the answers yet,” economics teacher Michelle Traeger said.

Semester one enrollment has ended, but students can consider joining the other 540 EVP students in semester two. After evaluating how an EVP course will fit into their schedule, students can work with counselors to select these classes. “I don’t want students for whom those [in-person] classes are working to seek online classes because they think it will be easier. For one, avoiding rigor is avoiding learning. Two, it won’t work: EVP’s classes are challenging too,” EVP coordinator Steven Cullison said.

From accommodating students who are transitioning to online learning to making staff members’ jobs easier, EVP has made big changes. “I need to give a shout-out to the counselors, teachers, support staff, and administrators at EHS who are working hard to make this possible,” Cullison said. “In the coming years, I want Edina Virtual Pathway to achieve a level of recognition for excellence to match that at EHS. It’s a tall order, but we have a moral obligation to offer students the best possible education.”