Some families with children enrolled in the virtual learning academy in Historic Triangle can opt out of the program for the second half of the school year.
On Nov. 3, Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools announced families enrolled in the Family Choice Year-Long Virtual Learning program have the option to transition out of the program.
Those who choose to leave the program will instead follow the school district’s current path: Return to Learn: Forward WJCC Schools plan, which includes both remote and in-person learning schedules for students.
“This was always part of the plan,” said Eileen Cox, spokeswoman for WJCC Schools. “So back in August, July, when we initially made the option of virtual learning available to parents, we announced that students who are struggling…would have the opportunity to opt of the virtual academy and rejoin the path and whenever the school division was.”
Students who choose to leave the virtual learning academy will have a new teacher, and “adjustments” to their class schedule, according to the district’s announcement.
Families who choose to leave the academy cannot switch back for the rest of the school year.
“There are multiple logistics changes that happens when the student exists the virtual academy,” Cox said. “For example, their teacher changes because they are now going back to a homeschool setting.”
If the district were to give families the option to leave the academy and go back for the second semester, Cox said WJCC would change the student’s schedule multiple times a year and it would not “provide the consistency of the student-teacher relationship.”
“It would hinder our ability to support students academically to have that many changes in teaching, in courses and schedules,” she added.
But what about families who want to opt into the virtual learning academy because they are concerned about the coronavirus?
When WJCC announced the virtual learning academy option for students, Cox said families who chose this option would have to commit to remote learning for the entire school year.
However, Cox noted the district is “looking at what options might be available to individual families” who are struggling with the program.
For example, if a high school student could not return to school, there might be an option for them to continue their class remotely, she said.
“So we’re looking at what other options there are,” she added.
In an interview in July, Cox said 2,767 students were enrolled in the virtual learning academy.
“I think its safe to say it’s about 2,600,” she said Tuesday, adding some families have switched to homeschooling their children.
Cox could not give the number of students who left the virtual learning academy until Nov. 30 –– the deadline for families to make the switch or change their student’s learning plan.
WJCC’s second semester starts Feb. 1.
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