Forsyth County Schools plans to move elementary online learning program to Forsyth Virtual Academy for 2022-23 school year

Otherwise, Rice said the virtual learning model for all years will continue as normal.

Middle and high school students will continue to have access to asynchronous classes online through a full-time or part-time virtual class schedule, and synchronous classes will continue online for elementary students.

Outside of class, students can participate in clubs, extracurricular activities, and sports activities at their home schools.

Rice said she and her team decided to create this more permanent solution for virtual learning in Forsyth County schools because of the number of students enrolled in the program full-time.

As of fall 2020, approximately 40%, or nearly 9,000, of K-5 students in the district were enrolled in the program, primarily due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. That number started to drop every semester, dropping to nearly 5,500 in the spring of 2021, then to nearly 1,500 later in the year.

Today, the K-5 program serves just over 800 students.

“It’s the size of a school,” Rice said. “Even though we see the numbers drop significantly, we recognize that this virtual model still serves many of our families, regardless of a pandemic. Many of our families have seen the benefits of virtual education for our elementary students, so we want to make sure we provide this opportunity.

Moving forward with plans to move K-5 into Forsyth Virtual Academy, Rice and her team began working with Human Resources and other departments to ensure they had the space, staff and instructional resources available to support virtual enrollment next school year.

Because elementary grades are synchronous, the district needs to find teachers who can dedicate their time to virtual learning at ACE.

To find out how many virtual teachers will be needed to support the program, district leaders sent out surveys to parents and guardians starting Wednesday, asking those who want to enroll a child in full-time virtual learning to do so. complete and make a one-year pledge for the year 2022-23.

Going forward, Rice said it will be a similar process to out-of-district applications or applications for Alliance Academy for Innovation. Once these forms are submitted, families commit to changing schools for the following year rather than a single semester.

Parents and guardians will have until Monday, February 7 to complete the survey and secure their child’s place in the virtual learning program.

Rice said the district needs this information quickly so that human resources can determine if teachers may need to move to another school and ensure the Forsyth Virtual Academy is full.

“For example, if one of our elementary schools has 75 students choosing to take virtual education next year, that’s about three teachers at that school,” Rice said. “That’s 75 students who wouldn’t attend this primary school face-to-face, so we could use those three teachers and move them under Forsyth Virtual Academy.”

District leaders and school board members emphasized at the meeting that parents need to take this commitment into consideration before making a final decision.

For the past two years, parents and guardians of K-5 students enrolled in virtual learning have had to provide tremendous support to their children at home throughout the school day. Going forward, Rice explained that parents should always be actively involved in the education of the student at home.

“Children, especially in kindergarten, first and second grade, need this support to be able to access technology, connect [and] access their missions,” Rice said. “And so we ask parents to consider how important their support and daily work with their children will be.”

Hayes told the council that they had started having a conversation about the possibility of hosting training sessions for parents to show them the basics of navigating ItsLearning and other online platforms while helping their children. to follow the daily schedule.

Rice said many families have been able to figure out if virtual learning really works for them over the past two years.

Overall, she said kids who are organized, motivated, can stand up for themselves, aren’t afraid to ask questions, and can let the teacher know if they don’t understand something they’re struggling with. succeed in virtual environments.

Hayes and Rice continued to stress during the meeting that it’s critical for families to understand that completing the survey commits their child to a full year of virtual learning.

“If we’re dedicating staff to providing that option, we need our families to commit to that model,” Rice said.

Moving Forward Rice, Hayes and their teams will continue to work with departments and district leaders to ensure the success of the virtual program for the upcoming school year.

The board thanked them both for their work on the program, emphasizing the importance of providing virtual learning to families in the district.

“It gives parents a choice and an option of what’s best for them,” Vice President Wes McCall said. “We learned from Covid that with 50,000 students everyone has their own situation. This provides parents with tools to help what is best for their children. This goes in the direction of individualized learning.

For more information about the program and the Forsyth Virtual Academy, visit the district’s website at www.forsyth.k12.ga.us.

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