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Ormond Beach Observer Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 6 months ago

Volusia County Schools is asking struggling remote learning students to return to brick-and-mortar

The school district is still working toward a reduction of 'hybrid' Volusia Live classes for the second quarter grading period.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

About two-thirds of students in middle school and high school enrolled in Volusia Live are failing at least one class. 

Data shared by the school district at the Volusia County School Board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13, shows that 65%, or 3,619 out of 5,533 students in high school enrolled in the county's livestreamed classroom learning model have a D or an F grade in at least one class. At the middle school level, that number is slightly higher — 67%, or 2,778 students out of 4,158,  have at least one D or an F grade. 

The numbers of failing students decreases to 33%, or 2,001 out of 6,004, at the elementary level. 

With this in mind, coupled with the fact the Volusia Live model was only approved for one semester, the school district is reaching out to the parents of the affected students and asking them to consider returning to brick-and-mortar.  

"The idea for them returning is that the sooner they’re back in brick-and-mortar, the sooner we’re able to provide intervention for those students face-to-face," said Gabriel Berrio, Volusia County Schools assistant superintendent for high schools. 

The district is also in the middle of revamping Volusia Live at the middle and high school levels to reduce the number of classrooms where teachers are in simultaneously instruction both brick-and-mortar and Live students. At one Volusia high school, these hybrid courses account of 95% of classes, with less than 1% of classes being "pure" Live classrooms. 

An overhaul of classes of the Volusia Live model cannot be completed before the end of the first quarter grading period, Nov. 2,  so as not to affect student's credits, and would only be in effect for the second quarter since the Volusia Live model will end for all students on Jan. 22, unless the governor's emergency order regarding schools is extended, and the district is not expecting this to occur. 

Volusia County School Board member Ruben Colon said the district has to be prepared to offer students another virtual learning option if Volusia Live is discontinued since there will be families who will not wish to enroll their children in brick-and-mortar.

“We can’t force a parent to bring a child to school, nor do we want them to go anywhere else," Colon said. "So I think we’re going to have to be prepared to expand Volusia Online to ensure that those parents are covered.”

According to the Volusia Online website, 8,988 students are currently enrolled in that learning model.

School Board member Carl Persis asked to see the data for students enrolled in brick-and-mortar with a  D or an F in at least one class to compare with the Volusia Live data, as well as the data for kids with a failing grade who are currently enrolled in a hybrid course.

“I think the more data we really have before we jump to a conclusion, there may be some other factors here that could help us with some of these decisions down the line," he said. 

One issue that could arise with students transitioning to Volusia Online from Volusia Live mid-year is that Volusia Online follows a different educational curriculum, School Board member Jamie Haynes pointed out. A transition like that could create a learning gap in a student's education. 

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