Virtual School Option
Public schools are deemed an essential industry by the United States government. This is an important distinction as it requires us to perform our duties to keep our country operating. If our schools close, businesses close. During the winter, when we close for a snow day, local governments and health providers follow our announcement with their own last-minute emergency closures and cancellations. Barring an order from the governor to close our schools, we will be open for school in Baldwin County on August 12th as previously scheduled. This opening will come with risk and as a parent you need to understand this risk as you will have a choice to make.
Our team has spent the last few months planning to create a safe environment for your children in our traditional school setting. We have been reviewing medical guidance from the health department, the CDC, pediatric doctors, medical directors, policy makers and elected leaders. We have been provisioning supplies to sanitize and make our schools as safe and healthy as possible. We have truckloads of hand sanitizer and disinfectants being distributed to all of our locations. We have plans regarding wearing masks. We have plans to monitor student and staff temperatures while in our buildings. We have plans to implement what social distancing we can on campus, in our traditional school setting. We have been working on plans to be transparent and notify parents about sickness within our schools, while respecting privacy laws and regulations.
Even with all of these precautions and all of these plans - we need you to understand that by choosing to send your child to traditional school, it is likely they will come in contact with the coronavirus. This is a reality we have come to understand and you must accept if you choose to send your child to traditional school.
No matter how much hand sanitizer we put out, no matter how much disinfectant we spray - children are going to be children. They're going to hug each other, drink from each other's drinks, poke, prod, spit and cough on each other. I wish I could tell you they will behave at all times but you know your children better than we do and let's remember, they are children. So even with the best laid plans, we are engaging in an environment of children who have difficulty focusing and embracing the seriousness of the issue.
With that understanding, let's talk about returning to school.
Classes for the fall of 2020 will begin on August 12th. Parents, you have two options. You can either enroll your child in our traditional school at whichever school location for which they are currently zoned or you can elect to enroll your child in Virtual School.
The virtual school is part of a program we have offered for over a decade in Baldwin County. In the past, this award-winning program has been limited to middle and high school students, but this year we have opened enrollment to elementary students as well. This is not the same distance learning program you and your child experienced during the spring. This is a rigorous, intensive instruction and assessment program. This program is built around a comprehensive software and curriculum management system which covers not only our core but also elective subjects.
Apply to the Baldwin County Virtual School Program
The Virtual School will take applications from all children in all grade levels. We have adjusted our previous guidelines to ensure all students have the opportunity to enroll in Virtual School. We will work with students who are involved in our special programs. There are no in-person classes for virtual students but there are in-person assessments. Tutoring is available by appointment at either our main virtual school facility, located on Highway 98 near Montrose or in our remote facilities across Baldwin County.
Many parents do not have the ability to stay at home with your children. That will need to be part of your consideration. Depending upon the age and maturity level of your child, you will need to make a decision as to whether or not leaving them at home works for your family. Alabama has certain age requirements to leave children unattended, but you also need to determine if you think your child is mature enough to be self-directed in their studies. A large part of your child's success in the Virtual School program relies upon their own self-direction and motivation.
If you are interested in enrolling your child in Virtual School, or just learning more about the Virtual School option, please visit BaldwinVirtual.com. To prevent any delay in enrollment, please complete your SNAP registration at your child's regular "base" school prior to completing an enrollment application for Virtual School.
Some people have asked if they can start in one program and change to another. Maybe you start in Virtual School but realize it doesn't work for your child. Whichever path you choose, students will be allowed to reconsider their choice and change enrollment any time in the month of August. After Labor Day, a student may only change their enrollment at the end of a quarter or semester depending upon their grade level.
We will be transporting children to and from traditional school as usual, but we will not be transporting children to Virtual School.
Please discuss this decision with your children. I have heard from parents whose children have been watching the news and they're very scared about the coronavirus. They are afraid that if they go back to school, they may get it and they may die. I have also heard from some that they are suffering from a lack of social interaction and they want to be back in class and not at home. All of this impacts your children greatly. Whatever your decision is as a family, I hope that you will take an opportunity to sit down with your child and discuss the options and make sure that they understand and feel comfortable in the decisions which are being made. For the latest updates from Superintendent Tyler click here.
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