SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – An online school in Utah is providing children with an environment that officials say helps alleviate social pressures some children face in traditional school settings.

“Our story starts three years ago when my daughter was in first grade,” Angie Leone said.

Leone is the mother of a daughter who attends Utah Virtual Academy (UVA) after an incident at her previous school.

“There was a student that was struggling with behavior issues and he would have outbursts,” Leone said. “Throw chairs, and it was really a discipline issue. They weren’t able to get that under control. And in the meantime, I wasn’t feeling safe for my daughter to go to school, let alone have a positive learning environment.”

While UVA is an online school, Leone said her daughter, and now other children who attend, still have social opportunities – just without the social pressure some children face in other school settings.

“We have other choices to continue learning and not be afraid to go to school or being able to send my daughter and be excited to learn and not be concerned about who’s going to be throwing what and hurting someone,” Leone said.

Meghan Merideth with UVA said some of the children who attend the online school are there to escape bullying, added stress and even anxiety.

“In an online environment where they can come and maybe put those distractions aside in an appropriate area to deal with and they’re not dealing with that simultaneously in a learning environment,” Merideth said.

She said those distractions can get in the way of achieving academic success.

“Yes, they need to deal with it but sometimes learning to deal with it a little bit at a time is more helpful than being fully immersed in it,” Merideth said.

Now, Merideth said there’s power in teaching children how to deal with problems in an appropriate way. She said at UVA there’s counselors and mentors available to help children work through situations.

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