One of the obvious advantages to virtual schooling over traditional homeschooling is the cost. Virtual schooling through a public school system is essentially free. The school sends out all the materials that you will need for the bulk of the year. Other than a few “common household items” (which include standard school supplies like pens, pencils, and paper, as well as markers, occasionally poster board, etc), you shouldn’t have to buy much of anything for your child.
However, there are a few things that you should probably have on hand.
First, keep in mind that your child will need certain materials throughout the course of the year. Sometimes, those are materials that you would already have on hand anyway—art supplies, or reference books, or other useful items. You’ll also need a computer, and that computer will need to work. You may need to acquire hardware to fix issues with your computer—a headset microphone if yours doesn’t work or you need multiple children to be able to listen to lessons at the same time in the same room; a scanner; other bits and pieces of equipment. You may need to acquire books that you wouldn’t ordinarily have kept on hand.
Virtual schooling is no more “free” in the end than public school, which has a number of surprising fees and expenses that will crop up over the course of the year; but in the end, it works out much cheaper than traditional homeschooling, especially with the curriculum provided. Just think about the expenses if you were attempting to buy all of those supplies on top of the curriculum! Also, the virtual academy curriculum tends to assume that you don’t have “odd” things just sitting around the house, so if they don’t provide them, they don’t require you to have them. They also give you a heads up in the “advance prep” section of the OLS, so you know what you need ahead of time.