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Saturday, June 25, 2022

A School Without Walls: Two Virtual Learning Programs Will Start in September


School Chancellor David Banks said parents have expressed an interest in fully remote learning.
Matthew McDermott

For all those people in New York City who have been in a coma for two years, I have unsurprising news. The NYC Department of Education is going to continue the virtual and hybrid learning programs that all students have had since schools closed in March 2020.

All others, here is the breaking news: After issuing more than 100 Executive Orders establishing the new terms of employment of all public workers in the City that employees either get vaccinated or terminated leaving almost 1000 DOE educators on leave without pay or fired and thousands of students without certified teachers; after a citywide order by Chancellor Banks was issued in August 2021 that all students had to be in their schools without any remote options except children with special needs; and,  after parents' and students' protests to in-school only classes fell on deaf ears leading to a mass exodus from public schools in NYC, suddenly the NYC DOE announces a roll-out of two virtual learning programs for high schoolers, to "work for our young people in a way that [the education system] never has before".

No, this is not groundhog day. NYC is seeing the Mayor repeating what he said in 2020, over and over, in order to convince the public that this is a new idea, this virtual learning stuff.

What this is, friends, is a mea culpa from Mayor Adams, but not said exactly like clearly or anything.

Remote learning, virtual programs, and classroom programs are all good. We need to give kids a buffet of choices in order to excite them into exploring new paths for the future.

We knew that two years ago.

See also:

NYC Chancellor David Banks Will Start Two Virtual Schools

Betsy Combier
Editor, ADVOCATZ Blog

NYC rolling out 2 virtual learning programs with aim to turn them into fully remote schools by 2023

By Cayla Bamberger, NY POST, June 23, 2022

Remote learning could be here to stay.

New York City is rolling out two virtual learning programs for high schoolers — with the aim to turn them into full-blown remote schools by 2023.

The new initiative, called “A School Without Walls,” will offer hybrid and virtual learning for 200 rising ninth graders this fall.

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is abundantly clear that our education system needs to work for our young people in a way that it never has before,” said Mayor Eric Adams in a statement.

“This virtual academy is about giving our students the freedom in their learning to explore their interests, learn outside of the box, lean into their talents, and use our city’s incredible resources as their classroom.”

Officials described the program as moving “beyond the classroom,” giving students more freedom and flexibility to earn a high school diploma.

Students will also be officially enrolled in a traditional high school, while the DOE works with the state to turn the virtual academies into full-time schools that can grant diplomas.

“The pandemic underscored the importance of reimagining the student experience for our children, giving them the opportunity to freely pursue their interests and passions as part of their high school journey,” said Schools Chancellor David Banks.

“It is up to us as educators to meet students where they are with opportunities that empower them in their learning,” he added.

Both programs will be housed within school facilities, where teachers will provide live and pre-recorded instruction using DOE equipment and classrooms.

Students will also have access to those facilities, for counseling services, in-person clubs, sports and electives. The DOE said it will also provide laptops, and families can visit the brick-and-mortar locations for technology support.

Hybrid students will attend school in person for half-days in Downtown Brooklyn, then finish their classes online.

Meanwhile, students who opt for the fully virtual model will sit for attendance and advisory in real-time, and take daily synchronous classes in the humanities, math and sciences.

This week’s announcement comes after months of Banks signaling interest in virtual learning since the start of his tenure as chancellor.

“I see it as a place of real innovation,” Banks said in an interview Wednesday with News 12. “We can really test out lots of different theories around technology and education.”

“For example, if someone is a great physics teacher, and your school does not have a physics teacher, why couldn’t we provide access to a physics teacher who’s on the other side of town for those students virtually?”

“There are people around the world who could be teachers in our schools virtually.”

The DOE also seemed poised to expand the programs to more students, if families are interested.

“I’m looking out for the response and the interest — when I find out how many parents are really interested in this,” Banks said.

The city’s virtual academies reflect a growing trend of more localities offering virtual options.

An analysis of the nation’s 20 largest school districts by the education nonprofit Chalkbeat found that almost all of them will offer remote classes this fall — and at least half are offering more full-time virtual options than they did pre-pandemic. Those include Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia and the suburbs of Atlanta.

In New York City, officials said “A School Without Walls” was designed in collaboration with students and responds to the asks of them and their families.

The program ran as a pilot with the organization NYC Outward Bound Schools and included summer and fall internship opportunities to field-test potential projects and career opportunities. In the spring, student interns helped the design team shape the virtual academies, according to the DOE.

The deadline to apply is Wednesday, July 6. Students will be selected by lottery and notified of offers by mid-July.