Bulloch County Schools have two experienced administrators as principals to lead the virtual home learning option during the 2021-2022 term. They will be holding an open house day for parents on July 29, the same evening as the school open house days.
Monday morning, only 449 students of all levels were registered in the virtual program, against more than 4,700 students for whom families chose the virtual option a year ago. But registration remains open to other families, via a link on www.bulloch.k12.ga.us/virtual for the school year starting August 2.
This year’s strategy for online teaching and learning is also very different from the plan that emerged in the summer of 2020 in rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year we’re going to do more with our teachers, our Bulloch County teachers are actually teaching,” said Pam Goodman, school district virtual program administrator for K-5.
PLP Schools, the interactive online platform that was used last year for primary school students learning on family schedules at their own pace, will not be used this year. Edgenuity, the platform that was the primary source of virtual lessons last year at middle and high school levels, has been retained, but only as a resource for teachers and students.
“I think the main difference between this year and last year is that we are going to be doing synchronous learning, which means they will be teaching and learning every day, meeting at certain class times,” said Katie Johnson. , now administrator of the virtual program for grades 6 to 12.
Last year, local ‘virtual’ teachers were expected to provide additional guidance, pace and activities to students working on the interactive platforms. But this year, local teachers will be delivering the lessons themselves using, for the most part, the Google software suite and the services of a company called D2L.
Originally called “Desire2Learn,” this online provider’s learning management system has been adopted by schools in Bulloch County as the primary virtual platform for Kindergarten to Grade 12.
So far 45 teachers are expected to teach virtual classes in the first semester. Goodman and Johnson, in a role similar to that of Directors, will lead the effort and work with them.
Goodman has 33 years of experience as an educator, including leading more than one Bulloch County school as a principal for the past twelve years, the last two years at Julia P. Bryant.
Johnson, now in her 15th or 16th year as an educator, was a virtual option coordinator until last school year, responsible for coordinating K-8 efforts in the second semester. Prior to that, she taught at JPB Elementary for three years and was principal and vice-principal in elementary and middle schools in Emanuel and Effingham counties.
These administrators will be based out of their homes but will have offices at the William James Educational Complex. Teachers in the virtual program will also be able to teach at home, but will have workspaces available within the complex.
“We will have an area here where the teachers can come if they want to record their lessons here and for them to have a reception area, and then also if the parents want to meet with us, we can either meet them virtually or we can. meet them here at the county office, ”Goodman said.
Who chooses the virtual?
The 449 students enrolled in the virtual program as of Monday included 113 in elementary K-5 grades; 83 in middle classes 6-8 and 253 in secondary schools, classes 9-12.
Of the parents Goodman spoke with, those who choose the virtual program represent a combination of two different groups, she said. Protecting students or family members from COVID-19 remains a critical concern for only some of these parents.
“We have a number of families who are still, number one, uncomfortable with the health conditions with their students going back to school face to face, with the variants (COVID-19) and all. the rest and then for some students it really provided a different learning environment that allowed them to really thrive, ”she said.
The Virtual Program Open House will be held Thursday, July 29 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the cafeteria of the William James Educational Complex, 150 Williams Road, Statesboro. Not to be confused with the current William James Middle School, the educational complex is where the central offices of the school system and the Transitions Learning Center are located.
Open House participants can enter through the entrance marked with an “E” on the east side of the building under the portico.
During this event, parents of the virtual program can pick up technological devices, meet their children’s teachers and ask questions.
Administrators and teachers will also provide training to parents on the D2L platform so parents know how to log into the site, access its features and work with their students.
“It’s all going to be offered here in different sessions,” Goodman said. “We have parents who also have face-to-face students, so we’ll be working with them to make sure they can attend the face-to-face open house and then come here and meet their teachers. and also have training and pick up their devices so it’s a one stop shop.
Available devices include Jetpacks to provide wireless Internet access, for all students who do not have reliable Internet access, and Chromebooks issued by the school district.
Parents will also receive a virtual program manual, outlining expectations such as meeting times now required for synchronous classes.
For face-to-face students, the 15 individual schools will also hold open days on July 29, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for elementary schools; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for middle and high schools.