MIAMI —Miami Public Schools will be giving students and parents three options to choose from for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.
Option 1 is a traditional classroom setting at the school.
Option 2 is a combination of online and onsite learning to help students and families who may deal with intermittent health concerns.
The third option is a virtual learning environment outside the school facilities. All three provide 24/7 online access to submitted and graded assignments and are led by MPS certified teachers.
“There is considerable work to do,” Miami superintendent Jeremy Hogan said. “We talked about re-entry and the overall plan, but as we talked about student options our goal all along was to develop a personalized learning approach; something so that parents working with their students are provided with options. We serve 2,200 students and a large number of parents and we want to provide the students with a safe learning environment, whether that’s at school in the brick and mortar traditional environment or us accommodating them and providing a blended model of both virtual and face-to-face instruction.”
Hogan said that can go throughout the spectrum, whether it’s all through the school year or two weeks or a month, depending on each situation.
Options will be catered to each family and their specific needs.
“And then we offer the full virtual option,” Hogan said. “We’ve actually been doing that for a couple of years at the high school only, but now it will be a district-wide measure for parents who don’t feel comfortable sending their child into a traditional setting, or maybe it’s a child with an underlying health issue and the doctor’s recommendation is that they not be in a traditional environment. We can still service them with full capabilities and provide them with a high-quality educational experience through a virtual platform.”
MPS had 47 full-time virtual students last year at the high school, but it actually had more than 240 high school students that took at least one class virtually, so it’s something the older students are familiar with.
“For the younger students, any more they are very familiar with technology and get around it very easily. They are used to it — it’s just part of their life,” Hogan said.
“What we’ve got to do is really the training and the support pieces for the adults — our staff and our parents. We have to provide a robust set of support and training for them so they can assist their students and help them be successful.”
He said it’s a different set of supports: “there are some accountability measures that are in place with the face-to-face system that will look a little different.”
According to Hogan, the biggest worry about full-time virtual learning is the responsibility in making sure that the students are putting in the time and effort.
There are some built-in measures where students will have requirements, such as the amount of time they have to be in the program actually working and learning while going through the modules, and they have to maintain a grade level of a C-plus or above to stay in the program.
“And then we have built-in another piece where they have to be onsite for an hour and a half a day, or we provide an hour and a half of face-to-face for them virtually if they have a medical situation. It’s not just ‘here’s your computer, good luck and go learn.’”
Hogan said this is new not only to Miami, but pretty much every school in the country.
“We are going to learn as we go and improve our process,” Hogan said. “This is one of our big hurdles to clear — trying to roll out this plan and make sure we have everything in place so that it will be successful,” Hogan said.
Those considering Option 2 or 3 for a student, e-mail Andrea Berry, Director of Innovation at MPS, at firstname.lastname@example.org
All school offices are currently open from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.