HPEDSB Launches New K-12 Virtual School

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The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board announced the opening of the new K-12 virtual school.

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This new virtual school for online learning is in direct response to the results of the recent questionnaire asking parents/guardians to indicate whether their children would attend school in person or remotely for the 2020-2021 school year from September.

Of the 15,000 students at HPEDSB, data has been received for approximately 10,000, representing approximately 66% of the student population. Of these, the data indicated that 84% of children would return to school in person and 16% would stay home for remote learning. Given these numbers, the HPEDSB must offer virtual learning to this 16%.

“Staff have worked tirelessly over the past week to create this virtual school. We’ve never done anything like this before, let alone have it ready in a week. I am so proud of the team who have gone from an idea to what will be a fully functional K-12 virtual school. Families who choose to have their children learn in this virtual environment can be assured of effective learning using the same Ontario curriculum content and expectations as regular in-person learning. Families who choose to send their children to school in person can also be assured that we are doing everything we can to provide safe learning environments,” said Sean Monteith, Director of Education.

The virtual K-12 school will be staffed with a principal, two vice-principals and teachers. Louise Gunning will be the director and the assistant directors will be Kerri Denyes and Brent Jewell. Gunning was previously principal of Madoc Township Public School; Denyes and Jewell were curriculum coordinators at the education center. Educators will be hired in the coming days.

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Families who have expressed an interest in virtual learning are being contacted this week to discuss virtual school.

The K-12 Virtual School learning environment includes:

• The first day of school for the K-12 virtual school will be Tuesday, September 8 (note that this is different from the first day for the in-person school)

• The school day will run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:20 p.m., with breaks and a meal period

• Students will be grouped together in many different schools to form classes

• Daily lessons will consist of a combination of synchronous* and asynchronous* scheduled teaching delivered by a teacher in an online classroom

• Students will be expected to participate in daily virtual meetings with their peers, as well as complete assigned independent tasks

• Students will need technology, such as a Chromebook or laptop with internet access.

• Schools will work with parents/guardians to review technology options, if necessary

• Students with special educational needs will benefit from accommodations, modified expectations and alternative programs as outlined in their Individual Education Plans.

• Meetings with parents/guardians will be conducted through electronic tools, such as Google Meet or by telephone

• Students may return to their home school for in-person learning only on specific transfer dates to be announced at a later date

• Families wishing to enroll their children in the K-12 Virtual School should contact their child’s current school by phone.

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*Synchronous learning: Learning happens in real time, online. Synchronous online learning is the use of text, video, or voice communication in a way that allows educators to instruct and connect with students in real time. Synchronous learning is interactive and engaging. It helps teachers provide immediate feedback to students and allows students to interact with each other.

*Asynchronous learning: Learning that is not delivered in real time. Asynchronous learning may involve students watching pre-recorded video lessons, completing assigned tasks, or contributing to online discussion forums.

Perry A. Thomasson