Common Questions (FAQs)

See below for common questions asked by Vista Virtual School students, parents and guardians. Additional adult student questions can be found in the Adult Upgrading section.

What is Vista Virtual School? Is it Accredited?

Vista Virtual School (VVS) is a public school that is fully accredited by Alberta Education. VVS is a school within Pembina Hills School Division that offers distance learning for grades 1-12 students from across Alberta. All high school courses taken with VVS appear on your Alberta Transcript of High School Achievement and in students’ myPass accounts.

How Many Courses Does Vista Virtual School Offer?

Vista Virtual School offers over 300 courses in the elementary, junior high and senior high levels.

Please see our Courses and Registrations tab and Course Catalogue for more information regarding the courses we offer.

When can I Register?

Full-Time Elementary/Junior High Students

  • Full-time registrations open in May prior to the upcoming school year.
  • Returning full-time students as well as new students entering grades 1 may submit their registration application for the next school year starting May 1.
  • Full-time students entering grades 2-9 may submit a registration application for the next school year once their previous year’s final report card has been received (please remember to upload the report card to your registration application).
  • Students entering grades 1-9 should submit their registration application by the third week of September and be enrolled in their courses by September 30 of the school year.

Full-Time Senior High Students

  • Full-time registrations open in May prior to the upcoming school year.
  • Full-time students in grades 10-12 may submit registration applications up until March 1 of the school year.

Part-Time Senior High Students

  • VVS offers continuous (year-round) registration for part-time students.
  • Students entering grade 10 may register for courses that do not require a prerequisite starting May 1; they can register for core courses after receiving their final grade 9 report card (please remember to upload it to your registration application).
  • Registration for summer courses opens on May 1, 2020. The deadline to register for a 5-credit summer course is July 17 while 1 and 3-credit summer courses will remain open to registrations until August 7. All summer courses must be completed by August 31, 2020.

Adult Students

  • VVS offers continuous (year-round) registration for adult students.
  • Students applying for the Skills Investment Bursary can register anytime but will need to wait until the SIB Session Start Date to be enrolled in the course.
How Long do I Have to Complete my Courses?

Full-Time Elementary/Junior High Students must complete their courses by the end of the school year—June 30.

Full-Time Senior High Students complete their semester 1 courses by January 31 and semester 2 courses by June 30.

Part-Time Senior High Students

  • Students are given one year to complete VVS-taught core courses, six months to complete 3 and 5-credit elective courses, and three months to complete 1 credit CTS courses.
  • Courses contracted to Alberta Distance Learning Centre (ADLC) must be completed by June 15 and ADLC CTS courses must be completed within 60 days of the start date.
  • Mature students who were 19 years of age on September 1 of the school year must complete their course by August 15.
  • All summer courses must be completed by August 31.

Adult Students

  • Students are given one year to complete VVS-taught core courses, six months to complete 3 and 5-credit elective courses, and three months to complete 1 credit CTS courses.
  • Students funded by the Skills Investment Bursary are given 24 weeks and must complete by their Session End Date.
What is the Difference Between an Online and a Print Course?

Elementary and junior high students receive print courses with paper lesson modules and assignment booklets. All elementary courses are in print format, whereas junior high courses can be offered in online or print formats.

Senior high and adult online and print courses are very similar. However, the print courses may involve downloading PDFs and printing assignments and/or lesson modules, then uploading the assignments to Moodle for assessment. Textbooks and additional reading materials are not available online.

What is the Difference Between Full-time and Part-time Senior High Studies?

Full-time students take a semester-based course load through Vista Virtual School. Part-time students only take a selection of courses—either taking one or multiple courses at any point in the year, and can start courses at any time. Many part-time students register with Vista Virtual School in addition to other classes they are taking at their local school.

Senior high full-time:

  • Students cannot be enrolled with any other school during the year.
  • Semester 1 runs from September 1 to January 31, and Semester 2 runs from February 1 to June 30.
  • Students take a full course load, typically 15-20 credits per semester.
  • Students are expected to spend about 30 hours a week on coursework.
  • Students hand in assignments according to a timeline set by their teachers.
  • Students are expected to keep in regular contact with their teachers and academic counsellor, and must attend Student-Parent-Teacher Interviews.
  • Students and parents must meet with a Vista Virtual School academic counsellor prior to enrollment.

Senior high part-time:

  • Students can be enrolled in another school or only through Vista Virtual School.
  • Students can enrol for courses any day and are given one year from the date of enrollment to complete. Students who are 19 on September 1 of the school year must complete their courses before August 15.
  • Students can enrol in up to 10 credits at a time.
How is Vista Virtual School Similar to a Traditional Classroom Setting for Full-time Students?
  • Students need to enrol in compulsory core courses (Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies) at each grade level.
  • Our goal is to have students complete courses by the end of the school year for both the elementary and junior high programs and by the end of each semester in the high school program.
  • Teachers are always ready to help and expect that students will ask for assistance regarding coursework and assignments.
  • Coursework is done on one unit of study at a time in each course, submitting completed work regularly for evaluation by the teacher or marker.
  • Assignments are typically completed sequentially so knowledge gained in one assignment helps with the next.
  • Students are given feedback by the teacher or marker with the expectation they will follow suggestions to improve in successive assignments.
  • Final marks are based on assignments, quizzes, and supervised exams.
  • Vista Virtual School students receive a monthly mini-report and a final report card each school year.
What is the Difference Between Homeschooling and Distance (Online) Learning?
Distance learning allows students that are Alberta residents to complete their education at home or on the go while being supported by their parent/guardian. The instruction follows Alberta Education learning and is directed by an accredited teacher. The teacher sets up the course schedule and guidelines for completion either online or in print modules (for elementary/junior high), and provides feedback, evaluation, and direction on exams and assignments. The parent/guardian may act as a tutor or assist with learning, monitors schedules, and ensures that timelines and deadlines are met.
Homeschooling is offered by Alberta Education for parents to directly teach their child(ren) most or all aspects of their education. The parent/guardian can follow Alberta curriculum guidelines, or they can establish their own home education outcomes in consultation with school staff (not accredited by Alberta Education). Either option does not employ an accredited teacher to educate their child(ren). If homeschooled, the parent/guardian is responsible for all aspects of their child(ren)’s education.

 

Does Vista Virtual School Offer Adult Upgrading and High School Completion?

Adults 20 years of age or older as of September 1 of the school year may also take courses through Vista Virtual School. See the Adult Upgrading section for more information on eligibility and course admission and registration procedures. 

Am I an Adult Student? What Happens When I Turn Age 20?

Alberta Education funds full-time and part-time students until they turn 20 years old and become an adult student. If you are taking a Vista Virtual School (VVS) course and turn 20 during the school year, you have until August 15* to complete your currently registered course(s).

Vista Virtual School’s deadline for mature students to register for a 5-credit summer course is July 17 while 1 and 3-credit summer courses are available until August 7. Summer courses have an end date of August 31.

If you do not complete by the course deadline, you will be withdrawn from your course(s) and will have to re-register as an adult student—there are no extensions granted. This means if you are withdrawn from the course but still want to complete it, you will have to pay for tuition and books/materials the same as other adult students.

*Note: this does not apply to courses provided by Alberta Distance Learning Centre on VVS’ behalf, as those courses must be completed by June 15. Students who register for a VVS summer course will have until August 31 to complete.

Can I Register if I am Taking Courses at Another School? Can I Take the Same Course?

Students in grades 10-12 can register as a part-time student even if they are attending another school. Part-time students can be enrolled in up to 10 credits at a time.

Students cannot be enrolled in the same course at two different schools at the same time. Alberta Education will not fund students enrolled in the same course at two different schools within the same term.

Why do I Need to Provide a Copy of my Citizenship? What Forms of Documentation will Vista Virtual School Accept?

In order to enroll with Vista Virtual School, students must be a Canadian citizen, lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence, a child of a Canadian citizen, or a child of an individual who is lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent or temporary residence.

As one of the Province of Alberta registered schools, we are also required to follow all regulations concerning maintaining student records. One of the requirements is to obtain documentation of citizenship for student records. 

All students are required to submit one of the following:

  • Canadian Birth Certificate;
  • Canadian Passport or Nexus Card;
  • Canadian Citizenship Certificate/Card;
  • Certificate of Indian Status Card
  • Permanent Resident Card (both sides)/Paper;
  • Record of Landing/Landed Immigrant paper or Refugee Protection Claimant Document (RPCD);
  • For students under age 18: certification indicating that you are the child of a Canadian Citizen (including a copy of your parent’s documentation); or
  • For students under age 18: certification indicating that you are the child of an individual lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent or temporary residency (including a copy of your parent’s documentation).

* Note: A Driver’s License is not considered proof of citizenship. And VVS does not accept study permits.

If you are unable to upload your citizenship documentation to your registration application, please email it to vvsupport@pembinahills.ca or bring it to a Vista Virtual School campus.

When do I Pay for my Course/Materials?

Once a registration is processed, the student will be emailed instructions for making a payment for any applicable fees owing. Full payment is then due within 48 hours and can be paid by credit card online through SIS, or by cash or debit in person at any Vista Virtual School Campus.

Materials are shipped to your address once full payment is received. Vista Virtual School does not supply required textbooks online, and they are not available at the Calgary or Edmonton campuses to pick up.

If you are an adult student who requires financial assistance, you may wish to look into the Skills Investment Bursary.

What is my Course Mark Made Up Of?

Course marks are comprised of assignments that are submitted online and—for some courses—quizzes and supervised exams. The course mark is weighted differently for each class and is outlined by the instructor at the start of the course. All courses follow the Alberta Education standards and guidelines.

Important: Quizzes (or assignments within the quiz tool) must be completed on a laptop or desktop computer. Moodle does not support tablet or cell phones for quizzes at this time.

Do I Need to Write the Diploma Exam?

Yes, diploma exams are mandatory for all students registered in an eligible Alberta Education program. If you are upgrading your course mark and have already completed the diploma exam, you may be able to use your previous diploma exam mark. Both the course mark and the diploma exam mark are required for a final mark to appear on your official transcript. Vista Virtual School requires students to write a supervised course final exam in addition to the diploma exam.

For more information, please visit our Diploma Exam Information page.

Will High School Courses Taken with Vista Virtual School Show Up on my Transcript? Will my Post-secondary Institution Recognize It?

Yes, we are a fully accredited school under Alberta Education. Therefore, any high school courses taken with Vista Virtual School will be reported to Alberta Education and placed on your transcript. Vista Virtual School courses will be recognized the same as any other public school in Alberta (including for out-of-province post-secondary institutions).

You may request an official copy of your Alberta high school transcript from Alberta Education, using myPass. If you need to send your transcript to an Alberta post-secondary institution, you may use ApplyAlberta.

How can I Withdraw from a Course?

Adult and part-time students must send their course withdrawal request to vvsupport@pembinahills.ca. Part-time students under the age of 18 must have their parent/guardian request the withdrawal on their behalf. Full-time students need to request a course withdrawal through their Academic Counsellor.

Please be sure you are familiar with our Refund Policy prior to requesting a withdrawal. The email should also specify the student name, Alberta Student Number, course name, and the reason for withdrawal.

An Alberta Education official transcript only shows the highest marks and credits awarded for each completed course. A withdrawn course may show up as withdrawn or incomplete on your Detailed Academic Report through myPass for your record.

How do Students Perform Laboratory Experiments in a Distance Learning School?

Students complete lab experiments virtually. This means they either complete interactive simulated labs online, review step-by-step photos, or watch videos of experiments being completed; they also complete information from experiment plans and photos, or complete written laboratory assignments based on the learning concepts. Usually, there is an opportunity to attend a full-day lab (for some courses) later in the school year—more information is available from the teacher.

How do Students Take Physical Education in a Distance Learning School?

The Physical Education curriculum requires that students participate in various activities across five dimensions:

  • Alternate Environments (outdoor activities)
  • Dance
  • Flexibility/Gymnastics
  • Games
  • Individual Activities

In each dimension, students complete a minimum five hours in one or two activities of their choosing. Students are required to submit photos or video showing participation in these activities, as well as submit a completed supervisor declaration for each activity dimension. Each month in the course, students are required to submit a monthly log.

Supervision is required for all activity hours earned. Activities must be supervised by a person over the age of 18 who has considerable experience in the activity. Some activities can be supervised through the use of fitness tracking apps (e.g. hiking, walking, outdoor cycling, outdoor running). Only 5-7 hours can be supervised by family members. All other supervision requests must be approved by the teacher.

PE 10 requires a CPR/ Heart Saving course, offered twice a year through Vista Virtual School.
PE 20 & 30 has a 10 hour Volunteer Commitment promoting physical activity.

*Due to the change in supervision options at this time, guardian supervision for all dimensions will be accepted. For grade 10 students, the CPR requirement will be excluded.

Register for Physical Education online: Register Here. When you get to the course selection page of the application, you can find Physical Education 10/20/30 under the Subject/Department Senior High Personal Development.

How do I Register for CALM?

Students can register for courses through our website: Register Here. When you get to the course selection page of the application, you will find Career and Life Management (CALM) under the Subject/Department Senior High Personal Development. If the Course Catalogue is filtered by grade, please enter grade 10 or leave the filter empty. While CALM can be taken at any point in high school (grades 10-12), VVS has CALM listed as a grade 10 course in our Catalogue.

VVS offers two versions of CALM: Career and Life Management (CALM) – Human Sexuality and Career and Life Management (CALM) – No Sexuality. Both courses have the same number of assignments; the only difference is that the Human Sexuality course has a “Sex Talk” portion in the Health and Wellness unit while this has been removed from the No Sexuality course. Both courses award students the necessary credits for a high school diploma so you may select the version of CALM based on your personal preference.

Please note: Students under the age of 18 must have guardian consent for registration. Grade 9 students may register for the CALM summer course starting May 1.

Do we Have a Spring Break or Fall Break?

Vista Virtual School courses operate year-round through distance learning so there is no officially designated spring or fall break. Campuses are closed for winter break and statutory holidays.

Does VVS Issue Tax Receipts?

Tax Receipts (T2202) can only be issued by post-secondary institutions (university, college, etc.) for post-secondary courses. As Vista Virtual School offers high school (upgrading) courses, these are not tax deductible.

Funding received through the Skills Investment Bursary is considered taxable income. A T4A will be issued by the Learner Income Support Office for all learners receiving in excess of $500 during the previous tax year.

If you require a receipt for your own records, you can log into SIS, click Make a Payment on the left side of the page, and select Print Receipt.

Can I get Any In-person Help?

Vista Virtual School teachers and academic counsellors are always ready to help and expect that students will ask for assistance regarding coursework and assignments. We strive to keep students and parents informed of progress on a regular basis. 

Our teachers and academic counsellors work in the Calgary, Edmonton, and Barrhead campuses. If your teacher or academic counsellor is at a campus near you, you may ask them if it is possible to set up an in-person appointment. Teachers and academic counsellors are ready to assist you by telephone or email, and many use Skype, Google Hangouts, texting, etc. Teachers and academic counsellors are available Monday to Friday from either 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. or 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Our academic counsellors and teachers also visit Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer regularly. Students can meet with their teachers, write supervised exams, or return textbooks during this visit. For dates and details, please contact your teacher(s).

To find out your teacher or academic counsellor’s campus location and contact information, please visit Our Staff page.  

What are the Technical Requirements for a Distance Learning Course at VVS?
Help—my Question is Not Listed!

For more information, see our Policies & Procedures section; or contact us at vvsupport@pembinahills.ca or vvsadults@pembinahills.ca, or give us a call at 1-855-974-5333 Ext. 5317.