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story.lead_photo.caption Jennifer Adams' sons learn from home through virtual learning program Launch.

As soon as class began in the morning, the second-grade teacher asked her students what day of the week it was, what month it was and what the weather was like before reading them a book.

She then led a class discussion about the different elements of writing a narrative as the students provided their commentary and showed her their own narratives.

Then she taught a math lesson, calling on students to answer questions and discussing the answers and ways to solve the problems — but none of this took place in a traditional classroom.

They were in a virtual classroom, sitting at desks and tables in their own homes.

Jennifer Adams, who used to be a teacher, said her children's virtual classrooms are similar to normal classes.

"It's really cool," she said. "Actually, I was really shocked at how normal it is other than they're sitting at their table or their desk at home. But it runs the same way."

The Launch virtual learning program is currently used by 1,363 students in the Jefferson City School District, including Adams' fifth-grader and second-grader.

Adams is at home with her children three days a week while they learn from about 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. She said she likes the lessons and appreciates that the students can move at their own pace. Since the program gives directions on what to do, it's easy to navigate, and her children can easily follow along, she said.

"If you read the directions and you follow the directions, it tells you what to do," she said. "That's really nice because I was kind of worried that I was going to have to do a lot of the teaching. I've not really had to do a whole lot other than just make sure they know where to go."

Adams' fifth-grader was bullied year after year, and he dreaded going to school every day, she said. This year, he is excited about school because he gets to stay home and doesn't have to talk to the other children much. While her second-grader has not complained, he's not excited about school like his brother because it takes him a while to warm up to new things, Adams said.

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Adams and her children had a few problems during the first few weeks of school — there was some miscommunication, they had to get used to the program and learn how it works, and the second-grader didn't have a homeroom teacher for the first week because she was in training, so he could only work on his special classes and play learning games.

"At first, it was a little chaotic," she said.

But since there was a massive influx of students enrolled in the program, Adams expected it to be chaotic. The only complaint she had was that they had to catch up on work because JC Schools postponed the first day of virtual learning by a week for elementary students. The district chose to delay the start date because Launch was experiencing delays due to an elementary teacher shortage.

Since elementary students started a week later, the children were a week behind on special classes such as art, music and physical education, so they had to do extra work to catch up. Although the work was pretty easy, it was stressful for Adams, she said.

"All of the specials teachers worked with them and did not put any pressure on us to get caught up," she said. "I'm type A, so I was just stressing out."

By the second week of school, Adams and her children had settled into a routine and gotten the hang of the program. She said each week has gotten better as problems are resolved and they get used to the new routine.

"I know there's been a lot of bad talk about Launch and how unorganized it is and stuff like that, but I just think that if you give it a chance, they'll figure it out," she said. "They'll work out the kinks because everything new has kinks."

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