While most Michigan schools, restaurants and events are closed or canceled due to novel coronavirus COVID-19, it's business as usual for students in the Wayne-Westland Online Learning program.
The program was launched four years ago geared toward high school students who couldn't find success in a brick and mortar setting.
Wayne-Westland Community Schools district expanded the all online program to middle school this academic year and is hoping to eventually reach primary grades. For middle and high-schoolers, the district is enrolling now for the 2020-21 academic year.
"We saw a lot of students who were having difficulties being in the building," Amanda Pelukas, the director of the program, said. "So, whether it was for medical reasons, anxiety reasons, whatever reason that they had that they couldn't be in the building, this was a program that we created to be flexible and to meet the needs of our students and our community."
Students do everything online, but are assigned to a school so clubs, school dances, sports, graduation and some electives can be done alongside peers.
"They are assigned to a school just like anybody else," Pelukas said. "My students are assigned to John Glenn, to Wayne Memorial, Tinkham Alternative or any of the middle schools. They then can do any of the activities that school offers."
Despite the online environment, students are given mentors if they need some face-to-face time and have 24/7 access to Pelukas. The program also boasts the ability to finish a class in two weeks if a student wants, creating a way to catch up on credits.
Pelukas said the free program also helps the district keep students from leaving to pursue and online program and helps bring in some school of choice students from around Wayne County, which means more state funding for Wayne-Westland.
But regardless of what extra resources the program brings in, Pelukas said it's most important to her that kids are enabled to succeed. She said if someone can come to her and pass just one class they failed before, it's worth it.
"I think all kids benefit from this program because for whatever reason they're not successful in the building, this eliminates whatever that issue is," she said.