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Supporting International Students with Online Learning

By: Jo Cipriano

From the desk of Jo Cipriano, English teacher and international student coordinator at Notre Dame High School

At Notre Dame High School in Fairfield, Conn., we offer international students the opportunity to get a high-quality, American education that helps them get into the top US colleges and universities. As a small Catholic school with about 450 students in grades 9-12, our school felt the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic as early as March 2020 when some students chose to return home to China.

Wanting to maintain students’ progress in their American education and Advanced Placement (AP®) courses, our school began offering VHS Learning AP® courses to remote students in China starting in the fall of 2020. In addition to numerous AP® options, we offered English 11, English 12, US Government, and a Mandarin class online. These teacher-led courses were critical to maintaining students’ learning and keeping the school community connected and engaged during the pandemic.

Here are three ways VHS Learning supported our school’s international students during the pandemic:

1.      Offered 24 AP® Courses

With 24 Advanced Placement (AP®) courses to choose from, remote students were able to continue their learning progress to stay on track for college. The content in these teacher-led courses aligned with our in-class options, ensuring students were still receiving a high-quality, comprehensive education in advanced subjects. Additionally, AP® courses help students earn college credit, furthering our school’s goal to prepare students to enter top U.S. universities.

2.      Supported Part-Time Asynchronous Learning

Whether students were local or returned to their home countries internationally, VHS Learning was able to support learning no matter the time zone, ensuring equitable access to learning for all students. Once local students returned to the classroom, some international students began joining in via Zoom or Google Classroom. This helped students maintain their connection to the school while also providing them with the support needed to succeed in independent work online.

3.      Maintained Community While Apart

Most students were learning from home in 2020 due to the pandemic, and online learning options with VHS Learning ensured our school was well-equipped to support remote students. By offering full course loads of VHS Learning classes plus the local support that kids needed, we were able to maintain the chemistry that our school community had built while enabling students to thrive in their online learning.

With a strong commitment to their learning and a full catalogue of online courses to choose from, our students were well positioned to succeed through the difficulties of the global pandemic. Offering AP® courses online through VHS Learning allowed students to finish remotely wherever they were located, maintaining their learning progress and keeping them on course for college.

Read more about how Notre Dame High School used VHS Learning during the pandemic to help students succeed in the case study: High School Uses VHS Learning to Keep International Students on Track Through Pandemic