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DCSS survey seeks input for virtual, on-campus learning

The Demopolis City School System is reaching out to parents of students to learn more about how families intend to approach the coming school year amidst concerns over COVID-19.

The school system intends to make available to students both on-campus and online learning opportunities. Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said plans are in place for a DCS Virtual Learning Academy, adding that some adjustments may be necessary.

“Our DCS Pandemic Response Task Force has been busy helping to lay out a specific plan for our students’ return to the classroom or virtual classroom. As we begin moving forward with the 2020-21 school year, I ask for your flexibility in creating the best educational fit for your child when we return to school,” Kallhoff said in a letter to parents and guardians.

The latest parent survey, released in July, is asking parents how their children will attend school in August.

“Should you choose the DCS Virtual Learning Academy, more information will be given at a later date,” Kallhoff said. “The DCS Pandemic Response Task Force is working hard to bring updated information as it is given to us from the Alabama State Department of Education. The parent survey is not binding, but is intended to give us a closer look per grade level at the number of students wishing to return on-campus or online.”

Students who return to on-campus school will require no further action unless the student is new to the school system, in which case they will need to be registered.

“This is a traditional on-campus school, five days a week, with regular school hours. Grading parameters will remain the same as in the past and teachers will continue to teach face-to-face in the classroom as usual with technology available to enhance the learning. This blend of face-to-face teaching and technology assistance allows for flexibility and the opportunity to easily shift to at-home learning if circumstances warranted doing so,” Kallhoff said.

If a transition to at-home learning is required, the system will utilize digital tools such as Schoology, Google Classroom, Google Meets, Zoom, recorded lessons, and other learning platforms. Students will receive recorded lessons with graded paper assignments and tests in PreK-2 and graded digital platform assignments and tests in grades 3-12. Scheduled daily Zoom sessions with teachers to discuss assignments and live teaching of concepts not understood will take place.

Those families that prefer to utilize the DCS Virtual Learning Academy will need to complete a formal enrollment application, which will be made available at a later date.

DCSS is partnering with the Alabama State Department of Education to develop a full time virtual offering that allows students to learn online if parents choose to keep them at home for the upcoming school year.

“While the students will have support from teachers, it will be different from what they experienced in the spring,” Kallhoff said. “Students take all coursework online with zero to very limited on campus experiences. Some assessments, state and local, and assignments may need to be administered and turned in at schools. Full-time remote instruction will require a greater daily time commitment than was experienced during the last quarter of 2019-2020 school year.”

Kallhoff added that once a student begins in the virtual learning academy no changes could be made until the second semester.

“If a student begins with this method of instruction, he/she will not be able to change to the on-campus delivery until the beginning of the second semester in January,” he said.

The latest parent survey can be found at https://forms.gle/BgUZeU6AHfcvntqa6

“The survey is designed to elicit responses from parents in order to assist us in our planning for the upcoming school year. We ask for serious thought to the questions in the survey. We appreciate your patience during this process and assure you that we are working tirelessly to provide the best education for your children,” Kallhoff said.