Online learning at home won’t go away next year


Monica Spadel would never have considered enrolling her second-year daughter in online classes before the pandemic.

But after schools closed and her family and others were forced to learn remotely, Spaidel was surprised to see Sierra, who attended Torrey Pines Primary School in La Jolla, thrive on learning by line. Her mother said Sierra, who is a very talkative girl, has spoken a lot in Zoom classes and still enjoys learning, even though it’s online.

Spydell now plans to continue learning online in the Sierra next year, although San Diego Unified plans to offer full-time in-person tutoring at all of its schools next fall. Spydell says he’s worried about Sierra’s health if he returns to school; He had pneumonia twice.

“If there’s an option for us not to worry about her, we’d rather take her for now,” Spydell said. “In the grand scheme of his life, spending a year and a half at home with us and enjoying it… for us, it is the easiest option.”

While state leaders expect all schools to be fully open to in-person learning by the start of the school year, that doesn’t mean all students will be back on school. school campuses.

Inspired by the pandemic, many school districts are creating permanent, online-only or independent study programs. School officials say they want to offer more flexible educational options to students who, for example, don’t want the social pressures of a traditional school environment or who prefer to work independently.

School officials are also keen to provide an option for families like Spydell, who are not yet sure whether to send their children back to school. Some parents are wondering if the COVID variants will increase the rates of local cases or if COVID vaccines will be available for children under 12 by then.

Online school, home schooling and independent study are modes of education supported by a charter school sector, which are publicly funded schools that operate independently of school districts. But traditional public schools have rarely used these options. The pandemic could change that.

For example, Carlsbad Unified said it is expanding its independent study program for students of all levels for the upcoming school year.

“Schools across the country during the pandemic realized that some things had to be done differently,” said Ben Churchill, principal of the school. “The schools have realized… that we can learn positive lessons from our experience over the past 12 months. We can grow, change and do better for students.

San Diego Unified is in talks with its teachers’ union to create a new virtual academy next year, which the district has promised to offer as part of a March deal with the union.

Before the pandemic, the county offered an online school only for high school students and an independent Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum, which includes less direct instruction than an online learning program.

The new district virtual academy will expand your e-learning option to grades K through 8th grade.

One of the big differences between distance education and the region’s new virtual academy is that academy teachers will focus exclusively on online education. There will be no more manipulation, as teachers try to educate students in person and students online at the same time, as is currently the case with blended learning.

Dan Winters, district manager of system improvement and innovation, said Sweetwater Union High School has known for at least 10 years that it needs an online option for students. He said the district is watching students leave their schools to attend charter schools with full online programs.

It took an epidemic for the region to launch a virtual school. Last July, the district created the Launch Academy especially for students who want to participate in online learning throughout the school year, not just until schools reopen. So far, around 230 students have signed up for this year’s launch program.

“It was a different show, not just for the band, but the online show that we’ve always wanted to do,” Winters said. “We knew there was an interest and a need in our community to offer such a program to our families.

At Launch Academy, a teacher acting as an academic coach will supervise up to 25 students, meeting with them about at least once every two weeks for help, Winters said. A full-time advisor from Launch Academy will also be assigned to help students complete necessary courses and provide mental health support.

Students will learn primarily on their own using an online program, but will have the opportunity to interact personally with other students, such as in student clubs.

Winters said online learning is not a good option for all students, a fact teachers say has become evident in the past year of school and distance education shutdowns.

“Students should have some level of independence, or at least the support of their families, to work independently,” Winters said.

Over the next school year, Poway Unified will offer at least four types of learning options: personalized learning; Online school Home school, where parents help with the education of their children; and independent study, where students work mostly alone.

“We try to be as accommodating as possible for our students and their families,” said Carol Osborne, Associate Supervisor of Learning Support Services at Poway.

Poway already offers home schooling and independent study programs, typically benefiting dozens of families each year.

Enrollment in these programs doubled during the pandemic. The Poway Homeschool program is used to enroll approximately 35 students per year; He was chosen by more than 600 families this year.

Now, like San Diego Unified, Poway is creating a new online academy for K-8 students. Previously, school district virtual learning only served high school students.

Osborne said the online academy would be different from distance learning in that there would be less zooming time for children and more opportunities for independent work or small group teaching time. Students of the online academy will also be able to do extracurricular activities in person, as a group, and use the campus labs.

“A lot of our high school students have been taking Zoom in each of their classes throughout the day,” said Osborne. “It will be built with more flexibility for the students. “

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