PA Cyber seeing a ‘significant’ increase in demand following mask mandate

PENNSYLVANIA — Hundreds of parents have been looking to enroll their children in online learning following Pennsylvania’s mask mandate for schools.

Brian Hayden, Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School CEO, told Channel 11 they’ve seen “a very significant increase in inquiries and enrollments from those who prefer not to have their children masked during the school day.”

Hayden said the calls picked up following Governor Tom Wolf’s mask announcement. Prior to that, however, the online school had been receiving a lot of contrasting inquiries from parents who were concerned about their kids learning in-person, as many districts at that point were planning on a mask “optional” policy.

Originally, PA Cyber had been expecting a decline in enrollment for this school year, as many families months ago anticipated more of a return to normalcy.

“Between the increase in the Delta variant, kids actually getting sick now, and these battles over the masks, we’ve seen our enrollment shoot back up again as we’ve entered the school year,” Hayden said.

He said the influx isn’t unfamiliar for them. As some districts fumbled their way through the launch of online or hybrid programs in 2020, many parents enrolled their kids with PA Cyber.

“Our enrollment was record high,” Hayden said.

He said they currently have room to continue admitting students before reaching capacity. It’s free for families to enroll in PA Cyber, as the individual student’s school district reimburses the charter school.