Reopening Schools: Fully Virtual School Instruction

As part of the district’s overall reopening plan, fully virtual school is an option for students. As of August 14, there are 712 students (about 25% of the student population) that have opted for the Fully Virtual School for September. Below are details about the Fully Virtual School plan. Certain information is still being worked out, such as pick-up and drop-off procedures, specific schedules, etc.

Fully Virtual/Remote School refers to the model whereby students, at the specific request of parent(s)/guardian(s), are educated remotely for a specified period of time. Specifics of the virtual school model vary by level:

  • Elementary Virtual School:  Students across the three elementary schools will be combined into virtual grade level sections taught by BH-BL elementary certified teachers. Specials area classes will be added for virtual learners at scheduled times. Parents are committed to the model on a trimester-by-trimester basis.
  • Kindergarten Virtual School: Kindergarten students will attend virtually daily for 2 hours of instruction provided by a certified BHBL kindergarten teacher. Parents are committed to the model on a trimester-by-trimester basis.
  • Secondary Virtual School:  Middle and high school students will be assigned to completely virtual sections by course on a parallel schedule to the in-person/hybrid program. These courses will be taught by certified BH-BL teachers trained in teaching in the virtual setting.  In special circumstances, virtual students may remotely enter in-person courses.  Parents are committed to the model on a semester-by-semester basis.

Additionally, should the district be forced to close school buildings, staff are prepared to pivot to full virtual learning for all students based on the guidelines provided on this page.

Practices for Fully Virtual School Instructional Model | Curriculum, Content, Concepts & Skills | Pedagogy | Class Meetings | Daily Schedule | Expectations of Student Work at Home | Student Support


Practices for the Fully Virtual/Remote School Model

  • Students enrolled in the Fully Virtual School will receive all instruction in a remote setting.
  • Students in Fully Virtual School will be loaned a Chromebook laptop, if needed, to use to attend live classroom meets, complete school assignments, complete homework assignments, stay connected to teachers and staff through school email, and access their school-issued Google Drive where they can upload work and share it with staff. As part of the district’s 1:1 Technology Initiative, students in grades 3-12 are loaned a Chromebook laptop throughout the year. In addition, the district has surveyed parents of grades K-2 students to assess which students need device for virtual learning. Furthermore,  district’s Technology Department will work directly with students/families who do not have internet access at home to ensure they are provided with a means to connect to the internet to attend Virtual School.
  • Students enrolled in virtual school will remain in the virtual program, minimally for the entirety of the first trimester (Grades K-5) or the semester at middle school and high school.
  • Parents of elementary students who would like to shift their child to the in-person classroom option for the start of the second trimester must notify  District Registrar Mary Ann De Luca of the intent to shift from virtual to the in-person or hybrid models no later than November 6, 2020 (tentative).  This will provide time for school leaders to reassign teachers between virtual and in-person instructional assignments as student enrollments shift. Large changes in enrollment may require changes to the overall structure and schedule for all students.
  • Parents of middle school and high school students who would like to shift their child to the in-person classroom option for the start of the second semester must notify District Registrar Mary Ann De Luca of the intent to shift from virtual to the in-person or hybrid models no later than January 6, 2021 (tentative).
  •  This will provide time for school leaders to reassign teachers between virtual and in-person instructional assignments as student enrollments shift. Large changes in enrollment may require changes to the overall structure and schedule for all students.
  • Instruction and instructional materials will be provided through a high-quality combination of asynchronous and synchronous modalities. Teachers will connect live daily with students and attendance will be taken. Students must attend all live scheduled aspects of the virtual school program. Several classes, including specials, will be assigned at specific times. It is the responsibility of the virtual student to attend all required sessions.
  • While the intention is that all primary instruction will be provided by the teachers(s), parents of younger students will need to be engaged in supporting instruction from home.
  • Student attendance will be taken. Student work must be returned to the teacher(s) completed.  Students will receive grades and progress reports in the same manner as students in the in-person/hybrid school.
  • At the elementary level,  instruction will be provided in ELA, math, science, and social studies for each grade level.  Students will also have access to weekly lessons for PE, art, music, and library.
  • In the event onsite instruction is suspended and the students and all students shift to an entirely virtual setting, students enrolled in the BH-BL virtual school will remain in the virtual program unless the district needs to make a change due to staffing needs.

If students transfer from the virtual school to in-person learning every effort will be made to assign them to their home school. Due to social distancing requirements and the assignment of staff to in-person and virtual classrooms, students returning to in-person schooling may be assigned to schools other than their homeschool only if the homeschool is at max capacity for social distancing requirements.


Curriculum, Content, Concepts & Skills

The NYS Education Department expects 180 days of instruction aligned to the outcomes in the NYS Learning Standards.  Departments and Curriculum Councils will Identify a concise plan in defined intervals (10 weeks, quarterly, trimester, etc.) that include the major concepts, essential content, and priority skills they plan to cover for each grade level and/or course generating consistency in overarching instructional design.  Weekly plans for learning will be guided by this essential content. Total content covered over 180 days of school should be essentially the same as in traditional school. Individual teachers develop lessons and instructional delivery.

Pedagogy

All teachers in grades 3-12 will use Google Classroom as their primary instructional platform.  All teachers in grades K-2 will use Class Dojo or Google Classroom as their primary instructional platform.

Teachers will be provided with professional development in August and September (and ongoing throughout the year) to self certify on the BH-BL standard digital platforms for virtual and hybrid learning.  Teachers will utilize these platforms to differentiate instruction, accessing a variety of delivery methods that best suit their course, grade level, and teaching style.  The instructional approach may include a combination of:

  • Synchronous “Live” Instruction.  Using Google Meet along with other digital platforms, teachers will deliver real time instruction to a full group or subset of students. Teachers may incorporate asynchronous or project based opportunities within this model.
  • Asynchronous “Flipped” Instruction. Using a variety of digital platforms, teachers will deliver captured or recorded lessons with associated expectations for students participation and assignment completion (i.e. “Flipped Classroom”).  These activities may include teacher/student synchronous interactions for a portion of the lesson.
  • Authentic Independent Instruction. Using a variety of methods, teachers will engage students in high quality learning activities.  These activities must engage students in the learning process.  Teachers will provide assistance to students in this mode of instruction through asynchronous and synchronous methods outlined above.

It should be noted that the district does not expect parents/guardians to be the primary teachers. Especially at the earliest grades parents will act as partners in the educational process. School leaders understand that remote teaching and learning presents significant challenges and they have narrowed the curriculum (see above) in order to help teachers focus on teaching the most critical content, concepts, and skills.

Class Meetings

Teachers will make personal connections with all students during scheduled class times via Google Meet. These connections will allow teachers to take attendance, introduce new content or skills and will allow students to connect with their teachers and peers in order to be guided through lessons, ask questions, and maintain personal relationships. The duration of these connections depends on the daily instructional plan but should be substantial enough to guide learning.

Daily Schedule

Remote/Hybrid and the Virtual School instructional models will follow the same schedule framework as the HS, MS and Elementary School to which the student is assigned. This will prevent conflicts from arising in scheduling and allow a consistent plan for student instruction. As with all school schedules, appropriate breaks will be included in the daily schedule including time for lunch. Students will attend all assigned classes at their scheduled time.  The method of instructional delivery will vary to facilitate appropriate screen time per age level within these parameters. Teachers will be making synchronous connections with students daily for the purpose of attendance and orienting the instructional day.

At the high school, Virtual School students will follow the block schedule of the day. Virtual School students will log in at the beginning of class for attendance and instruction, which could include teacher lessons followed by classroom work offline. Much of this will be based on what each teacher has planned for the block/class time.

We are planning to adhere to the regular start and end times of school for all grade levels. Drop off & arrival times will likely be staggered at the elementary schools, more details will be shared with parents closer to the start of school.

Expectations for Student Work at Home

  • Middle & High School: Following the daily schedule, students will complete required work for classes including homework.
  • Grades K-5: Following the daily schedule, students will complete required work for classes including homework. Up to 3 total hours of academic work inclusive of screen/print/& other academic work per day with additional time for virtual special areas exploration.

    Student Support

    Student engagement and performance will be tracked regularly through the student management system and other measures. Interventions will be established through pupil assistance team meetings and other plans including the input from teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists, related service providers, school resource officers, and administration. The professionals listed will also intervene on individual students based on reports of concern received from teachers.