Do you love virtual learning?

HCS creating new academy just for that

By ELIOT DUKE
Of the Record staff
Posted 4/27/21

COVID-19 may have turned public school systems upside down, but the pandemic opened up more avenues for parents when it came to their children’s education.

As public schools struggled to …

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Do you love virtual learning?

HCS creating new academy just for that

Posted

COVID-19 may have turned public school systems upside down, but the pandemic opened up more avenues for parents when it came to their children’s education.

As public schools struggled to open and stay open, parents became more and more adept at home schooling. Charter and public schools, faced with different circumstances than a large system like Harnett County schools that has more than two dozen campuses, managed to offer in-person instruction while their contemporaries shuttered.

HCS planned to offer a virtual academy before the pandemic hit and COVID-19 just reassured its need. When the 2021-22 school year begins, HCS plans to provide parents with this additional option as it tries to attract students back to the classroom.

“It’s really again, because of the competition,” HCS Superintendent Aaron Fleming said. “I think all us believe the best choice is Harnett County Schools and traditional public school. What we want to be able to do is extend that out to those who may not have had the public school experience and seeing some of the things we have to offer that choice options cannot offer. I think it’s important that we extend our reach and try to help those children as much as we can.”

Remote learning’s reputation suffered under the COVID-19 pandemic, but the new virtual academy won’t resemble the chaotic model experienced by students over the past year. Once signed up to attend the academy, students forgo their intended school and are committed to the online setting. The new academy will be staffed with HCS teachers and located in a brick-and-mortar building where internet connectivity won’t be a concern.

“It’s a separate school campus so to speak,” said Fleming. “If you are at Harnett Central Middle and you choose the virtual academy, you will no longer be a student at Harnett Central Middle or have the activities HCMS has. You will be part of the Harnett County virtual academy and that’s your school. It’s not going to be like this past year. You’re committed to it and you’re moving away from the association you had with the physical campus.”

The new learning management system selected for the virtual academy maintains a strict schedule and includes a required parental component.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Brookie Ferguson said students must succeed in the remote setting in order to stay there.

“Our concern is again, giving parents choices,” Ferguson said. “We have competition that will give choices if we don’t. We will still have autoimmune issues and different things going on. We have children with illnesses that make them more susceptible to sickness and their parents may want the choice. We think we will have a group of students who will need that.”

Fleming said teachers won’t be asked to pull double duty and switch back and forth between remote and in-person instruction.

Eliot Duke can be reached at eduke@mydailyrecord.com or at 910-230-2038.

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