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FCS parents must make decision on 2021-22 learning environments by end of April
District adds new synchronous virtual option for middle and high school

Forsyth County Schools plans to send surveys out to parents and guardians in April to again give them a chance to choose either in-person or virtual learning options for students for the 2021-22 school year.

An announcement on Tuesday stated that the surveys will be sent out on Monday, April 12 — the week following spring break. Responses will need to be submitted by Friday, April 30, giving parents a little more than two weeks to make a decision.

If the survey is not submitted by the deadline, the student’s schedule will default to regular, in-person learning.

The decision will be semester-long, meaning that whatever option parents and guardians choose in April will last through the end of the first semester in December.

“We ask that you thoughtfully consider the learning environment in which your child will be most successful,” the announcement reads. “The choice you make will determine staffing for thousands of school employees and 51,400-plus student schedules, so it is critical that families are confident and certain in their decision.”

Elementary students will have two options to choose from: in-person learning on their school’s campus or virtual learning at home.

The virtual learning option will look similar to what students experienced this year, according to the announcement. Students will have three to four live, synchronous sessions each day where they will have to log in online and actively participate in each of the classes.

Students will have a dedicated virtual teacher, but if they choose to switch to in-person learning after the first semester, “there is a very high chance” that their teacher will change.

Middle and high school students will have three different options: in-person learning on campus; virtual learning in a live, synchronous environment; and virtual learning in a self-paced, asynchronous environment.

Students choosing the synchronous virtual option would have to log into each class every day at the scheduled time. Their teachers will be online with them, hosting a 20-30 minute lesson before breaking the class off into independent work or extra assistance time for the remainder of the class.

“Active participation and timely work completion are essential to remain in this option,” the statement reads. “This is not an option to select if your student cannot be online and actively participating throughout the school day.”

Students who like to work at their own pace can still choose the asynchronous option through the Forsyth Virtual Academy. Through FVA, assignments are all posted at the beginning of the week and simply need to be completed before the end of the week.

Some classes at the middle and high school levels are still unavailable through a virtual option, especially career pathway courses that involve mostly hands-on lessons.

Parents and guardians whose student is receiving special education services through an Individualized Education Program and are interested in a virtual learning option must schedule a meeting with the child’s case manager to “discuss the appropriateness of instruction through the digital platform,” according to the announcement.

Many parents have held off on sending students back to the school campus due to lingering worries surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. While cases have begun to drop in the community and county schools, health officials across the nation have warned that it is still important to stay safe and follow guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 2,300 FCS staff received a COVID-19 vaccine during clinics held on Saturday, March 13, and even more have sought out other vaccines outside of the weekend clinic. Some continue to worry, however, that cases might rise again as students and families travel over spring break, beginning on Monday, April 5.

FCS saw its largest spikes in cases among in-person students and staff during the weeks following its Thanksgiving and winter breaks.

Since teachers, along with district and school leaders, need time to plan out the semester and school year, FCS is asking that parents make a decision for students that they can stick with through the end of 2021.

“This is a big decision, and we will hold you to your commitment due to the amount of time and effort it takes to coordinate the master schedule and teaching assignments,” the statement reads.

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