Virtual School Option

 

Information on Virtual School Option

The school year will begin for students on September 8, 2020.  Mercer County Schools could operate on any of the three following schedules.  The model chosen will depend on the metrics provided by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services regarding Covid-19 and will be communicated prior to September 8, 2020.  

  • Blended Model A – Students attend school 5 days per week on an amended schedule. Out of school homework/practice will be a requirement each day. 
  • Blended Model B – Students attend school alternate days on an amended schedule.  Students are divided alphabetically.  Students complete work/assignments at home on days they are not in school.  Teacher communicates regularly with assignments and activities are graded. 
  • Remote learning – Students attend school remotely 5 days per week with teacher communicating regularly with assignments and activities are graded.  This option is only if the governor closes schools, or if a particular school must close because of an outbreak. 

A 100% Virtual Option: 

Mercer County Schools understands that some parents may feel apprehensive about sending their children back to school while there is no vaccine for Covid-19.  Many students and family members have underlying medical conditions that make physically attending traditional school impossible at this time.  In order to accommodate these students and their families, Mercer County Schools offers a virtual option through West Virginia Virtual Schools (WVVS).  This option is available for all Mercer County students in grades kindergarten through 12.  Teachers will be assigned through the West Virginia Virtual School and may not be a teacher at the district school; however, the district school remains a point of contact for report cards, scheduling, and school-related services. 

For a student to be eligible for the virtual option, the student must be enrolled as a Mercer County Schools student in grades kindergarten through 12, or they are homeschooled/non-public school students in the same grades, and must have reliable Internet access at home.  Mercer County Schools will provide virtual students with a device (iPad, tablet, laptop, etc.) to access their assignments. Students may transfer to the virtual education program at any time during the school year.  Students may also transition back to the traditional school setting with one (1) week notice before the grading period ends. The Mercer County Schools Virtual Education Program policy (Policy I-15) may be viewed on the Mercer County School’s website.   Any parent choosing this option must fill out an application by August 7, 2020.   

If you have any questions about virtual school, please email mercercountyvirtualschool@groups.k12.wv.us 

The online virtual school application can be accessed at:  https://tinyurl.com/virtualschoolapplication.

 

Please review recently asked questions and answers concerning Virtual Learning

Q: Does my child actually have a teacher?
A: Yes, a teacher is assigned through the West Virginia Virtual School, and you may contact this teacher with questions and concerns with the course. 

Q: Will this teacher be a Mercer County Teacher?
A: At this time, we do not have Mercer County Teachers assigned to the West Virginia Virtual School platform.

Q: Do I need to pick a virtual school provider?
A: West Virginia Virtual School encompasses many providers. You do not need to select a provider listed on their website. 

Q: Where can I see the West Virginia Virtual School course catalog?
A: The catalog can be viewed at https://wveis.k12.wv.us/vschool/courses/coursecatalog.cfm. Please be aware that courses for Grades K-2 are being updated, and complete offerings may not be listed this time. 

Q: My child is in elementary school. What do I list for courses?
A: Elementary students will take a prescribed schedule of courses. For students who will be full-time virtual students in grades K-5, you can list “grade level courses”.

Q: What is meant by IEP and 504?
A: IEP stands for Individualized Education Program and means that your child currently receives services through special education. A 504 plan is a plan developed between the parents/guardians and the school to ensure that students with disabilities receive accommodations. If you are unsure, your child’s academic record will indicate that an IEP or 504 is in place. 

Q: What are some challenges my student may have in a virtual program?
A: Students may need support staying organized or maintaining a schedule to complete assignments. Time management is essential. Course guides and timelines will be available in each course, and parents/learning coaches will need to help students check and maintain progress. Teachers will also communicate concerns with the family.

Q: What are some positive changes I may see as a result of my child being involved in the virtual program?
A: Students have an opportunity to develop organization and time-management skills, develop a sense of responsibility, and take charge of their own learning.

Q: What happens if we have technical issues?
A: Mercer County Schools will provide a device for each student. Internet service is the responsibility of the family. The assigned teacher will be available for initial support and issues within the platform. For device issues, you will have access to support from the district school and Mercer County Schools Technology Department.

Q: What if I do not know my student’s email address?
A: You can place the parent’s email address in this section for now. The student email/password can be obtained when employees are back in the school buildings. 

Q: What about special education students?
A: The teacher will be made aware of the accommodations that your child currently receives and be made aware of IEP updates. The IEP team will still be involved at the district level.

Q: What if my child begins the virtual education program and we discover that this option is not suitable for them?
A: Students will have the option to transition back to the traditional form of school at the start of a new grading period. We ask that parents/guardians contact the school one (1) week prior to the start of a new grading period to make the necessary schedule changes to transition back to the traditional form of school.

Q: Does my child have to log in at a specific time?
A: No, there is not a specific time or day that your child must be online. However, it is important that you and your child communicate often with your child’s teachers.

Q: Can my child work on the weekends?
A: Yes. One of the benefits of taking online classes is that students can work during non-traditional school hours such as evenings and weekends.

Q: What is the difference between virtual school and homeschool?
A: Virtual school provides the curriculum, access to a licensed teacher, and device. Virtual school also preserves a student’s special education status or 504 plan. Parents have the option to homeschool by providing a notice of intent with the student’s name, grade, physical address, assurance of assessment, and a credential of at minimum a high school diploma/GED. When homeschool is the selected option, parents must facilitate or create a curriculum, and students do not receive special education services/maintain their 504 plan. It is the parent’s responsibility to maintain the assessment requirements set forth in West Virginia Code §18-8-1 and Mercer County Schools Policy J-03.

 

FYI: 

Comcast/Xfinity has extended an offer for 60 days of free home Internet for new eligible customers (800-266-2278).  Additionally, Comcast is extending free access to their public Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them, including non-customers, through the end of 2020.  A map of their hotspots can be found at https://wifi.xfinity.com/.