Dare County Schools: 800 students have registered for virtual learning

[Photo courtesy North Carolina Department of Public Instruction]

Dare County Schools are preparing for a return to in-person learning, and Thursday is the last day for parents and guardians to register their students for virtual school if they don’t want their children returning to the classroom.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 800 kindergarten through 12th grade students had registered for remote learning of the county’s 5,389 total K-12 students. Parents have until 5 p.m. on Oct. 8, to register for virtual school.

The Dare County Board of Education voted unanimously last week to allow parents to send elementary school students back to class for face-to-face instruction every day, and a hybrid model for middle and high schoolers to go back to class two days per week.

Under the plan, Pre-K through 5th graders would go back to in-person instruction in a phased entry plan, with Pre-K and grades 3-5 going back Oct. 26 and grades kindergarten through two added Nov. 2.

Grades 6-12 would give parents the option to send students back to class two days per week, based on alphabetical order, either Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. Wednesday will be a virtual day for all.

School officials released more information about what virtual school, and returning to the classroom, will look like at the end of the month. From school officials:

1. Virtual School Registration: 

We have fielded several emails from parents asking if their students can switch out of the Virtual School option after our deadline. While we strongly encourage parents and students to stay in the program, we will create a process where parents can apply to move back into the traditional program, state their reasons why, and have the request reviewed by our administration. We will provide a link on our website for this process.

Staffing both the virtual option and our hybrid models are based on student need and staffing (teacher certification). If a student opts out of the virtual option, they are highly likely to return to the teacher that they started the year with but this is not guaranteed.

Parents have also asked if their students can opt for virtual after tomorrow’s deadline. This is possible depending upon our ability to staff classes and meet class size requirements. Thus, our deadline is a “soft deadline”.

Parents have also asked why their children cannot keep the same teachers that they have had in Remote Learning. This is impossible at the elementary level because our traditional teachers will teach face to face all day beginning on 10/26. It’s not likely at the middle and high school level because the hybrid model has 6-12 teachers teaching live 4 days a week while also providing recorded lessons and independent assignments on days that students are remote. The pacing of lesson delivery is much different in this model and is often dependent on what is achieved on days in school. Thus, the students in the Virtual School will need to be facilitated by other teachers. An exception is at the high school level due to the broad array of course offerings that may allow for some synchronous delivery due to the small number of students in some virtual classes. 

2. Virtual School Schedules:

Parents will be able to log-in to Parent Portal on Monday, October 19 to view their student(s) schedule and assigned teacher(s).

3. Virtual School Meet the Teacher:

Virtual school teachers will be contacting parents/HS students on Wednesday, October 21, or Thursday, October 22.

4. High School Students Enrolled in Online Courses:

While Dare County Schools is following the approved 6-12 Hybrid plan: All high school students enrolled in online courses through COA or other providers will be given the option to be placed on a modified schedule, completing online classwork from home. These students would be required to provide their own transportation, attend all other face to face classes, and maintain a minimum “C” average to remain eligible for this privilege. Our high schools will make required forms available via email, Facebook, and on our websites for parent/student signatures. The due date for these forms will be October 23.

5. Registration for Transportation:

Dare County Schools collected family preferences for bus transportation in August through the Parent Portal in PowerSchool. We understand that your plans since August may be different. If you need to change your transportation preferences, you can fill out the Change of Transportation Request Form from your PowerSchool Parent Portal. This document and this video walkthrough will demonstrate how to get to your child’s forms.

6. Required Daily Health Screening Registration

Students and staff who will be entering the school building for face to face instruction will need to fill out a short COVID 19 survey prior to entry. This survey can be sent to a cell phone number through text message or by email. The survey will have to be completed each morning that the student is entering the building. Our team needs to know your preference for receiving this survey and the number or email address that you would like us to send the survey to. To gather this information, we have built a form in the PowerSchool Parent Portal titled COVID 19 Screening App Information. To fill this form out you will need to login to your PowerSchool Parent Portal.