Applications are now open for NYC Virtual School

Applications are open for the city’s new virtual high school program, which will only serve 200 ninth graders this coming school year, Chancellor David Banks announced Thursday.

The program, called “A School Without Walls,” aims to provide students with individualized distance education, internships and service-based learning.

Ninth graders can apply using their MySchools account. They will be able to choose between hybrid or virtual models, each offering 100 seats. The deadline is July 6 and students will be notified of the lottery results by mid-July.

The new program could be a draw for families who still feel uncomfortable attending in-person classes during the coronavirus pandemic. But city officials did not say whether some students would be given preference for the lottery.

All registered students will be provided with a laptop, and teachers will deliver live lessons as well as pre-recorded or asynchronous lessons from school campuses. Students will have access to the resources of these schools, including counseling services, technical assistance and extracurricular activities.

Students opting for the hybrid model will attend classes in person for half the day and remotely for the other half. In-person classes will be held at a Department of Education building at 131 Livingston St. in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the virtual model is fully remote, with both live lessons and self-paced learning.

Banks said the city worked with high school students to design the program, using lessons from the pandemic.

“The pandemic has underscored the importance of reinventing our children’s student experience, giving them the opportunity to freely pursue their interests and passions as part of their school journey,” Banks said in a statement.

New York City joins the other 20 largest school districts nationwide in offering a remote option this fall. Half of these districts, like New York, are offering more full-time virtual education than before the pandemic, Previously found chalkbeatillustrating the impact of online education even as questions remain about the effectiveness of these programs.

A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Education said teachers will take inspiration from traditional high schools and base the curriculum on NYS standards. “Courses will rely heavily on project-based interdisciplinary learning with additional support provided for math and science,” the spokesperson said.

The city has not yet announced all the details related to the program, but virtual open houses for interested students will take place on June 29, June 30 and July 5.

Tom Liam Lynch, who directs the Inside the schools online guide, said it was important that teachers receive training and support for the virtual model.

“How do we ensure that these virtual school options are high quality, culturally appropriate, socially emotionally aware, and responsive to student needs?” He asked.

Lynch also said that if the program was purchased from a vendor, it needs to be modified or tailored to the specific needs of New York students.

“In the wake of COVID, the entire planet has just discovered that it is possible to connect online. There is a realization that there are models that could work in our school system,” Lynch said.

Marcela Rodrigues-Sherley is a reporting intern for Chalkbeat New York. Contact Marcela at [email protected]

Perry A. Thomasson