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Macon County to launch virtual academy this Fall

After a year of learning the ropes of virtual learning, the Macon County Board of Education voted to move forward with a permeant option for families across the district who choose to continue virtual learning next school year. 

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, Macon County Schools was lucky to provide some in-person instruction to students who desired to attend school on site,” said Macon County Schools STEM Coordinator Jennifer Love. “All students participated in some virtual instruction but teachers were limited to the amount of direct instruction they were able to provide in order to accommodate for multiple students in a home, students with limited internet service, and so they could provide direct instruction to their in-person students.” 

The Macon County Board of Education voted to add the school to the district’s roster during the March meeting on Monday night. The new school, the Macon Virtual Academy, will be a completely online program within the Macon County School System for students in K-8 grade. The virtual academy will be staffed through the Macon County School System and it will function much like other 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. schools… except it will be virtual. 

“We have learned through the COVID19 pandemic that virtual learning didn’t work for all of our students, but we learned that a lot of our students did really well with virtual learning,” said Macon County STEM Coordinator Jennifer Love. “While the Macon Virtual Academy will look completely different than what virtual learning was this past year, we have taken what we have learned works and doesn’t work and used that to develop this school’s plan.” 

Students in the Macon Virtual Academy will be issued a device (iPad) to use at home.  Parent/guardian involvement, compatible internet service, and student motivation are required in order to succeed at the Macon Virtual Academy.

The Macon Virtual Academy, starting Fall 2021, have students engaged in direct instruction and specific daily assignments and expectations throughout the day.

While Macon County will be providing internet hotspots for students participating in the virtual academy, only students with reliable access will be enrolled in the virtual academy. 

“Any student that applies will need to have a reliable internet connection at their home,” explained Love. “The Macon County School System can work with your family to provide a hot spot but you must have at least two strong bars of cell service in your home for these to work.  Devices (iPads) will be provided to all Macon County School students, including Macon Virtual Academy students.  At this time, students who do not meet this requirement will be asked to attend school in person and will not be able to participate in the Macon Virtual Academy.”

Unlike the 2020-2021 school year, students will not be allowed to move back and forth between the Macon Virtual Academy and their in-person classroom at their “home-zoned” school EXCEPT at the semester break at the end of December.  

Applications are open to any K-8th grade student who is enrolled as a Macon County Schools student.  We welcome current students, homeschool, and private school students to apply.  Homeschool students may apply for full course loads or partial course loads (minimum of 2 core classes).  Space is limited.

Love said that the size of the virtual academy will depend on the amount of interest expressed from students as well as the number of teachers who express a desire to teach at the academy. 

Teachers are expected to check in with students daily on school days.  This may be a mini-lesson, formal lesson, Q&A session, teacher-led activity.  Teachers will provide up to three hours of instructional time each day and will have up to four hours for academic support (small group meetings, individual instruction) and planning time.  Classes are live-virtual (not videos or recordings) lessons provided by Macon County teachers.

Students will be graded in the same way that they would be graded in an in-person classroom.  Classroom participation, assignment completion and assessment will be given through their virtual classroom.  Students will have one week to complete assignments after they are assigned before they will not be accepted or will have points taken off their grade due to late work.  Parents/guardians will be able to access student grades through the Powerschool portal and will also receive progress reports and report cards throughout the school year.

Students will be able to take Art, Music, PE, STEM as well as participate in a virtual club time on Friday. Macon Virtual Academy students will also have the opportunity to participate in some in-person field trips throughout the school year.

Students interested in applying will be able to apply online on the Macon County Schools website. 

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