Rahul Tiwari, a Bengaluru-based technology professional has enrolled his children in a digital-only school because, he says, it offers more flexibility than conventional schools. “There is definitely more individual attention and teachers monitor better,” said Tiwari. He belongs to a growing number of parents who are opting for online-only education for their children even as regular schools reopen across the country with the easing of the pandemic.According to industry experts, edtech platforms are seeing a demand for new digital forms of homeschooling, where teaching is bolstered by sophisticated machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) tools.“The National Education Policy has more than 100 subjects that the students can select from but schools typically offer five-six routine ones. In online schools, specialists are roped in for subjects such as Carnatic music, Sindhi and Urdu, which many regular schools do not offer,” said Vijayshree Kalani, head of admissions at Cyboard School.Cyboard School is affiliated to CBSE and has 400 students from nursery to Class VI, with plans to add 380 more once the admissions are over. The online-only schools have the usual 9 am-2.30 pm classes with regular breaks.Parents such as Tiwari—his children study in 21K School—noticed that when physical schools moved online, teachers struggled with virtual classrooms as many were not trained properly.“We were hesitant to go for online-only schools, but we noticed that the performance of both our children was going down in the virtual classrooms that their regular schools organized. We decided to try online-only. In these schools, the teachers are equipped with all the skill-sets to engage kids online,” Tiwari said.The demand is also coming from tier-II and -III cities where families have the financial means but access to good schools can be a challenge.“We have also come across parents who have migrated to tier-II or tier-III cities for work and have not had access to a good quality school in their area,” said Santosh Kumar, co-founder and chief executive officer of 21K School. The online school started its academic year in 2020-2021. From 300 students then, it has 3,500 now. 21K School’s Indian curriculum is affiliated to the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).Competitor Cyboard School has noted that the majority of its students belong to Delhi-NCR, Lucknow, Kanpur, Mumbai and Pune. Fees range from ₹25,000 to ₹38,000 per year.The need for online-only schools surged as families moved from cities to smaller towns during the pandemic.According to 21K School, there are 2 million students of 4 to 17 years, who are enrolled in the homeschooling format.Not all are convinced if digital learning for an extended period can substitute physical classes. “Teachers read body language when the students are in the class,” said Devi Kar, director of Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata.