Board Briefed on Virtual Academy Alternative

Board briefed on virtual academy alternative

HOPE – The Hope Public Schools Board got a briefing Monday night on Hope from Home Virtual Academy to be operated in the 2020-2021 academic year as an alternative to on-campus instruction during the COVID-19 crisis.

HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart noted the board was meeting via Facebook livestream, as it has done since April, representing a version of what the virtual academy will mean as the district prepares for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“We’re hoping it can mirror, in many respects, the regular classroom,” Dr. Hart said.

He said the proof will be in the application as more than 450 students have already registered to begin school online.

“We have done a lot of training on this,” Hart said.

That training will prepare the HPS for the possibility of fully online instruction should Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson close school campuses, again, as occurred in March, he said.

Earlier registration numbers showed a generally even distribution of students across grade levels including kindergarten (20), first grade (29), second grade (37), third grade (37), fourth grade (22), fifth grade (39), sixth grade (29), seventh grade (39), eighth grade (36), ninth grade (27), tenth grade (31), eleventh grade (36), and twelfth grade (17).

Hart said all virtual academy students will be assigned a certified teacher for each class who will use the same curriculum as used on campus.

He said registrations are currently set to close July 31, but will likely be extended. Hart said the virtual academy will accept all HPS students who register, given the possibility of another school closure during the year.

Key components of the virtual academy include:

–Flexibility during the instructional day as the student addresses assigned work for each day through the Lincoln Learning platform.

–A Lincoln Learning tutorial will be available for parents to guide their student(s) through the day’s instruction.

–Teachers will have set conference times and a “chat” block in each on-campus class session to address virtual academy student feedback or questions.

–Virtual academy students will benefit from a curriculum that abides by state-mandated “essential standards.”

–Provisions will be made for thumb drive access to class materials for students without internet access due to rural distances from wi-fi availability.

–Virtual academy students will receive electronic devices provided by HPS for use in their studies, and those devices will become the responsibility of the student.

–Virtual academy students will be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities.

–Students requiring special education services who choose online instruction will be provided services without disruption.

–Opt in/out of virtual class instruction will be allowed during the school year, with frequency and timing guidance to be announced by the district.

–Virtual academy students on campus for any reason should abide by protocols for that campus, including recommended use of face masks provided by the district, building entrance screenings, attention to “social distancing” and engaging in frequent use of hand sanitizer and hand washing practices.

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