Alternative, fully virtual education option available next school year

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Photo used with permission from Google Commons

Students may benefit from the MCPS Virtual Academy by having more time to take care of siblings.

With this school year coming to a close, MCPS has announced that they plan on opening up schools in the fall to make the switch back to completely in person schooling. However, MCPS has also said that they will offer an alternative form of schooling that will be completely virtual for the 2021-2022 school year. This new option is going to be called the MCPS Virtual Academy.

The Virtual Academy will be available to all students, but is mainly targeting students who would benefit from a more flexible education schedule and students who are considered high risk or have family members who are considered high risk. “I think this idea could be super beneficial for people who have elderly or high risk family members at home. I don’t think it’s safe for them to return yet, so the MCPS Virtual Academy could really help them,” sophomore Humza Sehbai said.

I think the virtual academy will provide opportunities for those in unique situations to still be able to receive a high quality education next year.”

— Calvin Hanway

The academy will be designed for students who need to take care of their siblings or have to work a job as opposed to students who just don’t want to get vaccinated or don’t want to wake up early for in person school. “I think the virtual academy will provide opportunities for those in unique situations to still be able to receive a high quality education next year,” sophomore Calvin Hanway said.

With this new virtual option comes a lot of change. The first of which is that the staff for the Virtual Academy will be different than the staff for in person learning, which means that there will be a more coherent learning environment with less variability between how well each teacher is accustomed to virtual software such as Zoom and Canvas. 

Another change is that high schoolers will have the opportunity to choose one of three options for when they want to attend their classes. The different options will be to have classes either from 7:45 am to 12 pm, 12 pm to 3:45 pm, or 6 pm to 9:30 pm. Middle schoolers and elementary schoolers will still have full days of virtual instruction with less flexibility as well as less asynchronous work. “While the flexibility of the Virtual Academy is really nice, I am concerned about the quality of learning that’s going to be going on during this option,” freshman Jai Ahuja said.

There will be an application process to gain admission to the Virtual Academy that will be primarily based on how much a student would benefit from the fully virtual and flexible environment as opposed to an in person environment. Students who attend the Virtual Academy will still be enrolled at their “home school” and will therefore be permitted to get meals as well as participate in extracurriculars that occur in person on school grounds.