Guilford County Schools launching virtual schools

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Guilford County Schools will be launching two, tuition-free virtual schools for the 2020-2021 academic school year, the school system said in a news release.

Guilford eLearning Virtual Academy will be housed at Hunter Elementary School’s location and will serve grades K-5. Guilford eLearning University Prep will serve grades 6-8 and will be housed at Jackson Middle School’s location. Students in grades 9-12 can enroll in the eLearning University Prep Academy program while remaining assigned to their home school. Each school will have a principal, counselors, staff and teachers skilled in online learning.

The two virtual schools will launch in conjunction with the beginning of the 2020-2021 school, which begins August 17, according to a new state law. Students may start applying now to the virtual schools; there are no prerequisite requirements for enrollment. The application deadline is August 1.

“We’re pleased that the state has approved our request to open two new virtual schools this fall,” Superintendent Sharon Contreras said. “It’s important we provide parents with more options, not just during the pandemic, but throughout students’ K-12 experience.”

The two virtual schools will provide another option for the coming school year for families who have concerns about in-person, in-classroom instruction for their children during the pandemic.

Long term, the virtual schools also will allow students who thrive online, need a more personalized approach to learning, or those who desire a more flexible learning environment continue to receive a quality education, the school system said.

“While the two schools will function as separate entities, the curriculum is diverse and pioneering. The virtual schools will have various models from traditional calendars, yearlong calendars, and/or learning beginning midday or later in the evening for synchronous; live interactive instruction and asynchronous; independent learning with pre-recorded lessons,” the school system said in the release.

“The key change will be in the instructional strategies and learning environment that students experience,” said Eboni Camille Chillis, interim chief innovation officer. Students will have assigned teachers and will experience live and group instruction online. Students will also have in-person check-ins with their teachers and other school personnel.

According to a 2019 Forbes report, many school districts and states across the country are expanding online learning options for students. More than 2.7 million students across 30 states were enrolled in some form of online learning prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and several countries have placed their entire K-12 curriculum online.

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