Online school helping keep sick Arizona kids learning

Posted at 8:30 AM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-18 12:29:25-04

For some kids, public school just isn't an option whether they're battling disease or simply can't function with the crowds. Now, an alternative to home schooling is helping Arizona students find a path to graduation.

Jacob Priestley is a student at Insight Academy of Arizona, a K-12 public school done entirely online. Classes are conducted live with a webcam but students have the flexibility to schedule individual lessons or move forward with their assignments on their schedule.

It’s the only way Jacob has been able to stay connected to school as he battles a terminal illness. Mitochondrial disease is literally killing off his energy supply and his body doesn't fight infections the way most would.

"It's like running a Double A battery on a car," Jacob said.

His illness doesn't follow a bell schedule so he was missing a lot of school and when he was there his Autism and ADHD made loud classrooms overwhelming.

“I wish we followed a normal schedule where we wake up at 6 and get him off to school, but some nights he might get up at 2 a.m. and be awake for a couple hours with a nosebleed,” said his father Tom Priestley.

Jacob says he enjoys the lessons and using his laptop to work. His father says the smaller classes mean teachers contact them immediately when they notice Jacob is having a bad health day or just being a distracted teenager.

The school holds regular informational events online and in person. The next live Q&A is online on Wednesday.