It’s to distance learning with classes, as are all schools

  WHATCOM ­— Like all schools in the state, local Zaccheus Learning Opportunities also had to make a change to distance learning as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

  ZLO is an alternative educational option assisting parents who choose to homeschool their children — primarily serving secondary-level students.

  “You can think of it as an a la carte option so families can choose to do five classes or one, depending on what their needs are,” instructor Vanessa Vis said.

  Changing to distance learning wasn’t too difficult for ZLO students and instructors, although some younger students had to work around the early adjustments. 

  “For our early learners, it was a bit more challenging having to do that through technology, but all of the other classes have done fine,” she said. 

  ZLO also doesn’t set a timeline for when courses should be completed, so students and parents are able to develop the pace of education themselves. ZLO offers homeschooling families flexibility in classes and scheduling while also maintaining a homeschool setting, according to its website.

  Most students only take one to three classes through ZLO, leaving time for the homeschooling family to cover the rest of the required learning. 

  Prior to COVID-19, students and instructors met at a local church a couple of times a week, mirroring a typical school day with class periods and breaks. With distance learning now in full swing, instructors are teaching from their homes using a variety of different technologies, Vis said. 

  Teachers are mostly using Zoom or Skype to connect with their students online. Students are sending in assignments and other materials digitally as well.

  Some of the classes being offered through this format are Spanish, English, math and history, Vis said.

  Vis said the switch-over was mostly a matter of just figuring out what worked best for everyone. 

  “A few of us were more comfortable with the shift than others,” she said. “Initially, there was definitely a learning curve until everyone started figuring out what technology worked better and what worked for families. We had to shift in about a week to doing that and we did really well. We didn’t take a week off to figure it out — we just dove right in.”

  Questions still surround what’s going to happen next school year because of COVID-19, and everyone continues to be flexible while making plans. 

  “We are taking enrollment and people are registering, but as far as whether we will be doing it distanced or in person is yet to be determined based on what the state does,” she said.