Davidson County Schools taking applications for online academy

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DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. — As North Carolina parents await the governor’s pick on plans for the fall, school districts in the Triad are introducing online schools.

Davidson County is taking applications for their online academy, but parents have the opportunity to back out or apply after hearing Gov. Roy Cooper’s decision, as long as it’s not after the July 10 deadline.

It’s a different approach to learning.

The Davidson Online Academy will only be for students in kindergarten through eighth grade and will be completely different than Cooper’s Plan C, which would take traditional school online.

It’s a new tool to keep kids engaged in learning, but it may not be for everyone.

The online academy is a twist on the emergency online learning that the COVID-19 pandemic prompted.

“It offers them flexibility. It offers the parents who may have children that are at greater risk for contracting the virus to learn from within the home,” Davidson County Schools Superintendent Emily Lipe said.

It’s an option that could benefit many families.

“Some parents are worried about the health of their child due to COVID. Some parents are worried about the restrictions that we’re coming back into. Then you also have parents who also just want something that’s different than a traditional school,” said Ashley Lemley, the principal of the Davidson Online Academy.

There are some challenges expected. But most of the school day will be similar to what students are used to, with some added flexibility.

“We’ve now had much more time to plan and prep and figure this thing out,” Lemley said.

Students will be required to go to their home school for testing and some social activities throughout the year.

Next week, a survey will go out to parents who’ve already sent in applications for their children.

“We know parents are really weighting their options right now, trying to decide what’s the best option for their child,” Lemley said. “We want parents to get a glimpse of what a day at Davidson Online Academy will look like.”

Lemley said teaching kids at home is not for every parent.

“When you’re considering an online school option, it really affects the whole family and the dynamics of your day,” she said.

But it’s a challenge that she, and other Davidson County Schools staff, are taking on together.

“I never would have thought before COVID that this would be something I would be tasked to do,” Lemley said. “But I definitely see the revolution of online learning taking place right before our eyes.”

More than 750 students have already applied for the virtual school and positions are now posted for staff.

Students will be given devices they need to learn remotely, so there will be no additional costs.

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