In an effort to better accommodate students in unique situations, Daviess County Public Schools is redesigning its virtual learning options.
The program, which is scheduled to begin this fall, will be exclusively for students who can’t attend a traditional high school due to extenuating circumstances.
Some students who have medical concerns, or they are taking care of a child at home, or have to work full-time during the school week, which prevents them from being able to attend in-person classes throughout the week.
This amounts to about 150 DCPS students each year, and for those students the district is creating an option for them to complete self-paced lessons completely virtually.
While the district has had a version of this virtual learning in the past, especially throughout the pandemic, it is being rebooted and organized to accommodate students within its alternative learning program, said Jana Beth Francis, DCPS assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.
Years ago, Heritage Park, the DCPS alternative high school, developed what was then referred to as its night program. The program was for students who needed to earn credits, but were unable to be in school during typical school hours.
It was offered in the evenings for a few nights a week, and allowed students the flexibility to achieve their academic goals.
Francis said that program predated the district’s capacity to do virtual learning, and as time went on it became apparent that more students were choosing instead to log online to complete those assignments.
There was less and less of a need for them to physically go to the high school to complete work.
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The need for alternative learning options is still there, however, Francis said.
“We have started thinking that, instead of offering a program in the evening, we need to redesign and offer a robust and flexible virtual learning opportunity for students,” she said.
The program isn’t for students who just want to stay home because they don’t want to go to school, she said; it’s for students who need alternative options. Students who request the option will also be fully vetted to determine if their circumstances merit virtual learning.
In a sense it will be another alternative school option for students, but it won’t require a school building and it will be housed at the district central office.
Students who do need help with a teacher will have someone available to assist them with assignments or provide additional academic coaching, Francis said.
District officials are still ironing out the final details for the program, but the virtual option won’t be a change in curriculum. What is changing is how students get into the program, and the environment in which students are learning, Francis said.
“We want to provide a highly flexible option to be responsive to the economic and medical hardship needs some of our students are facing,” she said.
Owensboro Public Schools does offer a virtual option on a case-by-case basis, and it is strictly for students who have a medical issue preventing them from coming to school regularly, according to Jared Revlett, OPS spokesman.
Bobbie Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7315