Bradley County Schools will offer a short-term online learning option for students who are not yet comfortable with returning to in-person learning or committing to a full year of online …
Bradley County Schools will offer a short-term online learning option for students who are not yet comfortable with returning to in-person learning or committing to a full year of online school.
School-Connected Online Learning by Bradley County Schools was announced via social media Tuesday afternoon. Prior to the announcement, online learning would only take place when an individual is quarantined at home, during a district-wide shutdown or for those enrolled in the Bradley County Virtual School. However, students enrolled in the virtual school are no longer students of their home school, and are committed to a full year of learning online.
The district is promoting the short-term School-Connected program as a way for students to remain a student of their individual school while turning in work remotely.
To qualify, students must have at least an 80% GPA and have no more than 10 days of unexcused absences during the previous school year, the BCS announcement explained. Access to a device and the internet is required, as well.
Attendance and participation will be taken, and students’ progress will be checked each 4 1/2 weeks. A nine-week check-in will also determine progression, where it will be determined if School-Connected learning is “still the best fit,” according to BCS officials. The announcement states that School-Connected learning is not intended as a long-term solution.
“Schools may choose to return to their respective home schools as they desire, but must have written approval by the principal,” the BCS plan specifies.
The application deadline for the School-Connected program is Thursday, July 30, at 5 p.m., giving parents only about 48 hours from the time the application was made available.
Dr. Linda Cash, director of schools, said the need for expanded options was identified by the district's task force, calling the situation "fluid" and preparing parents for frequent changes.
"I know that we are within a week of school starting but we wanted to find a way to accommodate all of our families' needs," Cash said in a statement. "We continue to deal with an extremely fluid situation and plans change often, sometimes daily. We appreciate the continued patience and flexibility as we make these tough decisions."
Bradley County Virtual School Principal Bianca Pratt reported hundreds of parents showed interest in their 300 spots for virtual school for the 2020-21 school year during open registration in July. The virtual school offers 300 seats — 100 to elementary school students and 200 for middle and high school students.
In a statement provided by Pratt, she said applications were “increasing daily,” and families were “continuing to complete registration forms and being placed on our waitlist.”
The announcement comes a week before school resumes in-person next Wednesday for the first time since spring break, when the pandemic closed schools for the latter half of the semester.
Since the Bradley County Board of Education approved its back-to-school plan, including measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the county district has announced a staggered start to the school year in addition to the alterations to its online program.
School reopens for students next Wednesday, Aug. 5, for an abbreviated day with virtual meetings. On Friday, Aug. 7, the staggered start will begin and students will return at half-capacity by alphabetical order.
Students whose last names begin with A through K will attend school in-person on Friday, Aug. 7, Tuesday, Aug. 11, and Thursday, Aug. 13. Students whose last names begin with L through Z will attend school in-person on Monday, Aug. 10, Wednesday, Aug. 12, and Friday, Aug. 14. And then, all students — A through Z — will return to school for a full day together on Monday, Aug. 17.
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