Message from Baldwin County Public Schools Superintendent Eddie Tyler shared on August 6, 2020:
Good afternoon parents,
I want to update you on some events surrounding our Virtual School.
Virtual School registration closed on July 31, andI'm pleased to announce we had an overwhelming enrollment. Last year's Virtual School enrollment was approximately 300. This year's Virtual School enrollment for K through 12 is almost 7,000 students!
There are entire school systems in Alabama who do not have 7,000 students. In fact, our Virtual Elementary and our Virtual High School will now be the two largest schools in the state of Alabama!
This has some consequences. For example, we will have smaller class sizes and be able to provide some additional social distancing in our traditional schools. Now, don't get your hopes up for 8 or 12 kids in your classroom, but we do feel we're in a better position than we were several months ago.
This excitement for our Virtual School program has also caused a capacity issue at our Virtual School. Parents, we are at full capacity for our Virtual School for what we believe is the best educational experience for these children. We are closely managing our teacher and student ratios to make sure these children have an excellent educational opportunity - just as much as those in our, now much smaller, brick-and-mortar schools.
As a result of the overwhelming enrollment inVirtual School, we will NOT be opening Virtual School enrollment through the month of August as we have previously stated. Instead, we will reopen Virtual School enrollment for one day next week to fill a small quantity of openings.
This coming Monday, August 10, at 9 a.m., we will reopen Virtual School enrollment for kindergarten through 12th grade. Once we reach capacity, enrollment will close. I do not know if this will take a half hour or 5 hours, but it is the fairest way we can offer this opportunity without being selective.
Going forward, students will have the opportunity to return back to traditional school anytime in the month of August. If Virtual School is not working out for your child, you will have the ability to send them back to traditional school any time before August 27. Please note the last day to transfer back to traditional school will be August 27.
After that, students will be allowed to transfer back to traditional school only on the quarter for elementary children, or at the semester for secondary students.
Because of the capacity issues, I do not expect that we will allow any transfers into Virtual School throughout the rest of the academic year. If we see Virtual School students returning back to traditional schools, then we may have somecapacity come available. I will update you after Labor Day on our plans for accepting transfers into Virtual School at the end of the first quarter (for elementary students only) IF there is any capacity available.
Folks, with all of the changes to our school year and the challenges we are facing, I want to tell you that launching this Virtual School program has been one of the most exciting endeavors for many of us involved in education. The program we are putting forward will take some time to get fully operational and scaling it up to meet the needs of nearly 7,000 students will be a challenge. On the other hand, this is a turning point in public education that we believe will be around for a long time to come.
If you are still concerned about sending your child to traditional school, you still have other options you may consider. While our Virtual School has met capacity and is nearly closed to further enrollment, you should consider K12 Virtual School which is run through the Eufaula Public School System here in Alabama and is available to all students throughout Alabama as a public education option. You may also consider a private or parochial option and you may consider a home-schooling option until such time you feel it is appropriate to return your child to traditional school.
I am so pleased with what we have seen in the first four days. There have been a few hiccups and a few un-distanced interactions and non-mask wearing events, but we have corrected those and I believe we are getting everybody accustomed to the “new normal” we will meet in our schools.
Let's also remember that I fully expect, and you should too, that our children will come in contact with the coronavirus while in our schools just as they have in our community, on our playgrounds and in other engagement.
If you are in one of our Virtual School programs, please check your spam folders for messages that may be sent to you. We are continuing to transfer students from their base school at all hours of the day and notifications should be coming to you today throughout the next week. You may also check the school web pages and Facebook for updates. Please have patience with the staff at ourschools. You can only imagine how it would be to field thousands of phone calls every day wanting special attention for a student. This is something that all of us are having to work through and adjust our expectations.
If you have any questions, please reach out to your local school principal by email. Or you can find information and frequently asked questions regarding coronavirus and procedures for the Baldwin County Public School System by visiting www.bcbe.org/Coronavirus.
Thank you so much for trusting us with your children. I hope you enjoy your last week before school!