Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By David Pan 

Learning option for high school students: Attend Mukilteo Virtual Academy

New online school to debut in September

 

Last updated 7/14/2021 at 12:56pm

Unless the county sees a dramatic shift in the number of COVID-19 cases in the next couple of months, students in the Mukilteo School District are scheduled to return to full-time, in-person instruction in September.

But for those high school students who prefer remote learning, the district is offering a new option – the Mukilteo Virtual Academy.

The district decided to develop the 100% online program after a survey sent to families in May indicated a strong interest among high school students and their families. More than 150 students said they preferred to learn 100% online for the new school year.

In response, district staff has been working the last six weeks to prepare a virtual learning program for students in grades 9 through 12. A team reviewed the different

models designed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

The district selected a flexible model, offering live teaching for each class for at least 70% of the time.

"The 70% live instruction gave the most flexibility for students to be able to participate in other school activities, such as band, athletics and other clubs," said district communications and public relations director Diane Bradford. "It's the best model for flexibility."

Students, however, will have a regular set schedule and will report to class virtually. Some of the schoolwork can be done on their own.

Mukilteo School District teachers will teach all of the academy's classes, and will focus solely on their online classes, not in-person instruction. When schools reopened last spring, some classes were taught in a hybrid format – both online and in-person. The new academy will be strictly online.

"It will be a separate program," Bradford said. "It is not synchronous. It will be taught by teachers dedicated to the Mukilteo Virtual Academy. They will be dedicated staff."

Students likely will see familiar faces when they log in.

"We are starting with our existing teachers," Bradford said. "It will be a new assignment for them. Several teachers have expressed interest."

A new online learning assistant principal based out of ACES High School will oversee the new program with support from the executive directors of Secondary Education and Student Learning and Innovation.

Depending on enrollment, the district may need to hire additional teachers.

The survey did not get into the specific reasons students preferred a 100% online learning environment.

"We did not ask," Bradford said.

Some students may not get vaccinations for health reasons, and some exceled with remote learning.

"Some high school students preferred it," Bradford said. "They liked the distance learning model."

Because of a combination of factors, the district is not offering remote learning for its elementary and middle school district. Elementary and middle school families expressed less interest in remote learning, and the district also considered staff and financial issues in the decision.

The district wasn't surprised there was less interest from families, given that a parent would have to stay home with an elementary student.

"Parents' work schedule probably had something to do with that," Bradford said.

The district noted any student is eligible to register for a remote learning program run by other school districts or entities approved by OSPI. A list of approved online learning programs is available on the OSPI website (https://bit.ly/3kbdUAi).

The district will be sending out more information and registration details later this month to families.

 

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