Belpre BOE gives information on virtual school
BELPRE — Belpre City Schools Superintendent Jeff Greenley says parents must weigh the pros and cons of in-person learning versus virtual school for their students as the district prepares to reopen at the end of August.
Parents are asked to indicate by Aug. 3 whether their children will return to classes at Belpre City Schools facilities or participate in a semester-long virtual school program. Classes are set to resume Aug. 24.
“Every family is going to have to sit down at the dinner table and talk about their family, their student, what needs they have, what risk indicators or factors they may have in their family, and will need to make a decision about in what way their student will attend,” Greenley said. “Some factors I might consider are how did your student do with online learning last year? How has their social and emotional health been? In general, how easily does your student learn? Are there members in the immediate family who are more susceptible to COVID-19… or does the child have any conditions that make them susceptible? I think those are some questions families need to be asking themselves. It will really depend on you and your family and what would be right for your child.”
Greenley led an online town hall discussion Monday, touching several times on the district’s virtual school option being offered this fall.
“The virtual school experience will look different depending upon grade level,” Greenley said. “For elementary students, we will guarantee your student will be assigned a Belpre City Schools teacher to teach them and facilitate that learning during the year. That instruction will be synchronous with grade-level peers in the building. The pacing and curriculum will follow and track right along” with in-person learning.
Greenley said building closures at the end of the previous school year forced the district to quickly adapt classroom lessons to online learning, but officials have since reworked and created new content for online classes.
“It will be a different experience than last year. We’ve learned a lot,” he said. “We will have frequent Zoom meetings, plus some recorded classroom content for families. We will have office hours with the teacher.”
Greenley said students on individualized education plans, or IEPs, will continue to receive services even if they attend virtual school.
If an IEP goal cannot be “facilitated through virtual learning,” Greenley said, officials will work with families to find alternative accommodations for the student’s needs.
“We will continue, whether you are virtual or in-person, to comply with a student’s IEP,” he said.
Greenley said middle and high school students enrolling in virtual school will participate in a program through the Ohio Valley Educational Service Center, a regional consortium which provides services to all Washington County schools and several other counties.
Belpre students “will be assigned a virtual teacher through (the center’s) program,” he said. “They will have access to content experts and will also have a mentor that is local here in Washington County that will be a liaison between the student, the family and the school district.”
Unlike the elementary school, Greenley said, the virtual high school program will not be synchronous with in-building classes. However, all virtual school credits will transfer back to the high school, he said.
A full course list and set of answers to frequently asked questions can be found through Belpre City Schools’ website and app under COVID-19 resources, he said.
Chromebooks will be provided for families enrolling students in virtual school at all grade levels, and workbooks and textbooks will be provided. Technical support also will be available for students enrolled in virtual school, Greenley said.
Students in virtual school will be able to participate in school lunch, Greenley said, but officials are still “exploring what that will look like.” More information will be released in the coming weeks, he said.
Greenley said every effort will be made to ensure in-person and virtual learning provide the same educational benefits for students.
“We want every student and every family to have equitable access to our curriculum,” he said.