Students in New York City public schools will soon have additional access to online learning options because to the city’s Education Department’s plans to launch two “virtual academies.”
On Tuesday, Deputy Chancellor Carolyn Quintana stated that “we want to build two brand new virtual schools so that kids have more freedom in how they attend to school,” according to a City Council budget hearing.
However, the department of education has promised more information on how the virtual academies will operate and how students can qualify, who will teach the remote classes and if students will be virtual full-time in the near future. In the past, Schools Chancellor David Banks has said that he expects to begin operating a virtual school in September.
As the city prepared to return to face-to-face education, there was a flurry of discussion about a long-term virtual alternative. Families with COVID-19-related concerns lobbied for online programs, while others stated their children enjoyed virtual learning.
Tom Liam Lynch, the director of education policy at the Center for New York City Affairs and a former Education Department technology official, believes that putting together a totally virtual school for city pupils could not be as difficult as it looks.
There are critical parts in place that can be built upon, according to Lynch. There is currently an unique online learning platform called iLearn in place inside the Education Department. This platform includes curricular content preloaded and integrates with the department’s outdated attendance and grading systems.
Preceding the epidemic, the city had been experimenting with virtual education via a pilot program that allowed high school students to attend virtual versions of AP and foreign language classes that were not provided at their normal schools regularly. Lynch believes that this experience might serve as a model for how to educate teachers for virtual classrooms and to get past the limits of the union contract for remote teaching.
One possible rationale for having two virtual academies, according to Lynch, is so that younger and older students may be separated, as well as those who want full-time digital lessons from those who want more a la carte alternatives.
Banks told the City Council that the new academies aren’t simply for the students who are enrolled in them.
The schools will be used as “laboratories of innovation” that “guide how we will educate all our pupils electronically,” according to him.