COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus City Schools is sharing how its newest learning opportunity is working for children enrolled in “BlendED.”

The program was born out of what the district experienced last year during the pandemic.

Kenny Lee, who focuses on accelerated and extended learning with CCS, said BlendEd is a program for families who felt their student thrived in the hybrid settings, which came about during the pandemic.

“Could’ve really benefited from a mix, and that was kind of what we had at the end of the school year, where we’re in a cohort model: A and B,” Lee said.

The program takes CCS teachers and puts them in charge of all aspects of the virtual school day. This differs from last year’s digital academy which was platform reliant.

Lee said he likes the direction they’re going. They’ve been able to secure partnerships across the region to make learning engaging — like being at the zoo.

“Students, while at home and learning virtually…would see their teacher, for example, doing a math lesson at a Sea Lion exhibit.” For instance, Lee explained: “There are pre-school teachers that did ABCs at the zoo.”

Right now, there are roughly 600 K-12 students enrolled in the program, and the district is exploring whether it will continue.

“Right now, we are serving the students that were originally enrolled and working with those families and that staff to support them so it will be next year to continue with BlendED. [We] hope for expansion and more families,” said Kyra Schloenbach with Chief Academic Services for the district.

One main aspect of BlendEd, along with virtual learning, is the chance to gather for in-person lessons or field trips.

Lee explained that’s one thing that hasn’t been able to be done yet due to concerns about the Delta variant and uptick in COVID-19 cases.

“Been kind of cautious in terms of bringing the students together on-site in different ways — that is still the plan. But given some of the uncertainty that surrounds our current environment, we really want to be thoughtful in how we do it,” said Lee.

This program has been in session since the start of the school year.