FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Southwest Allen County Schools is allowing access to its eSACS Virtual Secondary School to all students in Indiana. Enrollment opened Wednesday for students in 7th through 11th grades.

“We are now at a point with our e-learning school that we are going to be able to open it up to students from across the state,” said Superintendent Dr. Phil Downs.

The district has been working on this plan for over 5 years. The ongoing pandemic isn’t the reason it was started, but COVID-19 accelerated the district’s plans.

“Certainly the COVID situation, when we decided we were going to have to put something together for our students, it very quickly became obvious to us this is something that students around the state would be interested in maybe having access to,” said Dr. Downs.

Dr. Downs said there isn’t a high demand for open enrollment for eSACS, but the district did receive inquiries from students and families.

eSACS will enroll up to 144 students this year. Each grade level has a cap on how many students can enroll. If that limit is reached, a lottery system will be put into place.

Seniors cannot enroll this year, but will be permitted to next year.

A complete CORE 40 curriculum is offered to high school students, and a CORE curriculum is offered to middle school students.

“The students log in on Monday and are given a series of instructional videos, automatic feedback type quizzes, assignments, discussion boards with their peers, and various activities, all of which are due on Friday of that week,” said Homestead High School Vice Principal Susan Summers.

The district said its reputation will set eSACS apart from other e-learning schools.

“What we’ve tried to do modeling Arizona State, Purdue and Quality Matters, is look at the things that help students complete, or finish the work. And I think that’s going to be one of the big strengths of our program. Besides the fact that it’s also SACS employees, SACS curriculum, and SACS teachers,” said Dr. Downs.

The district will hire more teachers for eSACS. Dr. Downs said this will not affects SACS’s budget.

“I can tell you it was made very clear to me I needed to find a way to do this within our tight budget. We’ve been able to do that, and the board’s been very, very open to a lot of creative ideas. And so have the teachers, we’ve worked with the teachers and with the staff at Homestead. We’re going to work this to where it is cost-neutral for us,” said Dr. Downs.

Students will need to provide their own internet and laptop.

For more information on eSACS, click here.