Charlottesville City Schools prepare to offer application-only virtual school

Charlottesville City Schools prepare to offer application-only virtual school

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A good portion of the Charlottesville School Board’s first in-person meeting since the beginning of the pandemic, ironically, was spent discussing the plans for continuing virtual school for some.

“Our goal, however, is to have students return to in-person learning,” said Chief Academic Officer Katina Otey.

That may be the goal, but there is another option for certain students: virtual school, available by application.

Here’s what we know so far: it’s an option for 3rd through 8th graders, Charlottesville High School will offer standard virtual classes (including economics and health), cameras will have to be on, and it will be almost all synchronous learning.

“That is because the [Virginia Department of Education] is no longer allowing for long chunks of asynchronous time like we’ve been able to count in the past as instructional hours,” said Summerlyn Thompson, Johnson Elementary’s principal.

As far as eligibility, applications will be reviewed by principals.

Acting Superintendent Jim Henderson gave insight as to what type of student may be eligible.

“Over their 3 and 4 years in elementary school, [they] were struggling academically, or emotionally and socially, and then they went to the virtual platform and have shown just tremendous progress,” he said.

The draft application includes questions such as: “explain why you think virtual learning fits your student’s learning style/needs.” Once it is approved, a final version of the application will be posted online.

Families will have to be cautious with their decision-making.

“Once they transfer out of virtual learning back to in-person, the expectation is that they will stay in in-person,” Thompson said. “Then likewise, if they begin the year as an in-person student, there will not be the option for them to transfer into that virtual program [barring a medical emergency].”

City schools are also discussing what would happen if a student needed to be quarantined due to COVID-19, but joining those specifically designed virtual classrooms may not be what is done.

For more information on the virtual school plans, you can view the presentation given to the school board here.

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