With the spring semester fast approaching, Polk County Public Schools is ready to welcome students back to in-person instruction, as well as continue offering online learning.
The spring semester begins Jan. 19. As of last month, there were 59,480 students taking in-person classes and 24,938 students pursuing online learning through the district’s Campus e-School program.
“Some families want to switch from online learning back to a traditional classroom setting,” said Michelle Townley, acting chief academic officer. “But we also know that there are others who don’t want to make a change from online learning at this time. Fortunately, we still have flexibility to offer both learning formats to our families. Parents decide which option best suits the needs of their children.”
The Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) recently approved PCPS’s Spring 2021 Education Plan.
All schools will remain open for traditional brick-and-mortar instruction (Campus Learning). In addition, students still have the option of remaining enrolled in their current school but take part in online learning (Campus e-School).
Parents and guardians who wish to switch their child to either learning format should contact their school administrator. There is no deadline or timeframe for families to decide if they want to make a switch. Schools will honor the requested changes within a week of being notified.
Under the Spring 2021 Education Plan, new safeguards have been put into place to identify and help struggling students in the Campus e-School program.
Students will be required to utilize their device’s camera during online classes when instructors are delivering a live lesson.
“We need to make sure all students are paying attention and participating fully in their online lessons,” Townley said. “Teachers must be able to monitor that students are actively engaged in the learning process.”
FLDOE requires that steps be taken to make parents and guardians aware if their children are not making adequate academic progress in the Campus e-School program, and recommend that those students be shifted back to in-person instruction.
“Parents and guardians will be given a notification letter that their children are struggling with online learning,” Townley said. “Distance learning can be very challenging. We will be advising that these students return to face-to-face instruction as soon as possible, so they can receive additional support. We want to help them sharpen their academic skills, catch up with their peers, and be successful. However, parents decide whether their children will remain within the e-School program. Parents decide which learning format is best for their families.”
After receiving a notification letter, parents and guardians can provide written acknowledgement that they still wish for their children to remain in Campus e-School, and they will be allowed to remain in the online learning program.
Campus e-School students in grades K-12 are not making adequate academic progress if they do not achieve the following:
- Satisfactory grades of C or higher in core academic courses and electives required for high school graduation
- Grade level proficiency on previous years’ Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics, and end-of-course (EOC) exams
- Grade level performance on this year’s reading and mathematics progress monitoring assessments
- Attendance rate of at least 90 percent
- For high school seniors, a 2.0 grade point average (GPA) or higher, and satisfaction of the reading and mathematics assessment requirements for graduation
“If students cannot meet this criteria, we will be sending out notification letters no later than Jan. 19, 2021,” Townley said.
The Spring 2021 Education Plan also covers how PCPS will be working to improve attendance, reduce absences, and support professional development opportunities for teachers, administrators and support staff.