Parents need to select traditional or virtual model for all students
The Pickens County School System is urging parents to select which model - traditional or virtual – they want their student to participate in for the second semester. Parents will make their selections on a form recently sent to all families via email. The deadline for submission is Sunday, Oct. 25.
Parents must fill out the form again this semester for every student enrolled in the system. Parents will choose the traditional in-person model or the virtual model in which students will again use the Pearson Connexus platform.
Pickens Communication Officer Destini Shope said while the deadline may seem early considering the second semester doesn’t begin until January, it is necessary to give the system time to prepare.
“There is an enormous amount of planning with staffing and other issues,” Shope said. “Let’s say we have a large number of students who were virtual this semester but are going to return to in person, we will have to reassign teachers from virtual to traditional. Those teachers will have to create lesson plans and prepare for class, among other things that need to be planned for with teacher and student schedules.”
Shope also pointed out that system employees will be on break for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, “so we really have to have everything ready by the first week in December.”
At press time, they had 830 responses of the 4,238 total student body population. Of those, 650 students currently enrolled in traditional will remain in traditional; 78 currently enrolled in virtual will stay in virtual; 93 currently enrolled in virtual will return to traditional; and eight currently enrolled in traditional will move to virtual.
For the current semester, 919 (22 percent) of the student body is enrolled in virtual learning.
All families were emailed the school learning choice form on Monday, Oct. 19, but there are also links to the form and an instructional video on the Pickens School System website at www.pickens.k12.ga.us.
An email sent to all parents explained that the virtual model “requires active parent/guardian support throughout the program. Due to the expectations of the virtual courses, it is highly recommended that parents interested in the virtual program schedule an appointment to preview Pearson Connexus.”
This semester, some parents who had their children enrolled in the virtual model reported having difficulty as the program is more self-guided, with some teacher support when needed. The platform has worked well for some students, but others have found it more of a challenge. Working parents and those with young students, for example, have complained about issues juggling work and helping with lessons. For the first semester, the school system had about 100 students return to in-person learning a few weeks after starting the semester on the virtual platform.
The parent email also noted that “students who are currently attending virtual school need to be successful and on track to complete the first semester course(s) by December 18 in order to continue with the virtual learning model during the second semester.”