Arizona’s First Autism-Focused Online School Offered Tuition Free

Arizona’s first and only tuition-free autism charter school will offer a new online option in the fall, the school announced Tuesday.

Arizona Autism Charter Schools acquired state approval to become the state’s first autism-focused online school for students on the spectrum and other special needs, according to a press release.

The school in the release said it is equipped to educate up to 100 students online this fall, in addition to the more than 400 students that attend the school in-person.

The expansion comes after students excelled during the virtual learning environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with some students and families requesting virtual learning as their preferred method of instruction, according to the release.

It will also allow the school an opportunity to serve additional children and families throughout the state who may not be receiving a comprehensive, fully-integrated education from kindergarten to 12th grade where they live, the school said.

“Many of our students have various appointments throughout the day, so if their family prefers they can now learn from home, while having the support of highly-qualified teachers, learning success coaches and case managers with a low student-to-teacher ratio,” Dana Van Deinse, the school’s senior director of partnerships and online learning, said in the release.

Deinse comes to the school from Arizona State University’s Prep Digital, where she fully developed the online school and launched its high school in 2017, according to the release.

She says students in the autism charter school’s K-8 online school and online high school will participate in virtual morning meetings, online curriculum and online sessions with teachers, speech therapists and tutors.

“There will also be onsite opportunities for social events, field trips and STEM activities on campus or out in the community throughout the year,” Deinse said.

“There will be a lot of flexibility and variety in how the students learn.”

Information sessions for the school’s online program will be held on July 21 and 28 at 4 p.m., with the school year starting on Aug. 3.

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