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Virtual schools collaborate with State Department of Education

Posted at 4:44 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 11:18:38-04

BOISE, Idaho — Districts all over the state are switching to online learning, but what about schools that were online to begin with? They're ahead of the curve, but some things are changing for them too.

"My fellow teachers had worked very hard to put that curriculum into effect and help students understand it, so I do think that was one leg up we had because we were virtual already, we weren't scrambling to try and figure things out," said 504 case manager for Another Choice Virtual Charter School Tayler Hilton.

Typically, Another Choice Virtual Charter has a hybrid setup, meaning students can go to different labs to work in-person. That's no longer happening, but they're making themselves even more available to students than they usually are. They've added Google hangouts and more communication into the mix.

"I think being in a virtual school we deal with this a lot we want the buy-in from students we want them to feel invested, we want them to know we're invested in them, and so just continuing to are those efforts to reach out, I've seen so many amazing things teachers have done," said Hilton, who works in the special education department.

Since these online schools seem to have it figured out, has the State Department of Education turned to them for guidance? The answer is yes.

"The state has been amazingly supportive during this time, we have meetings every week, we were having meets twice a week, there's special ed meetings every week," said administrator and head of Another Choice.

The SDE has said in a statement that Superintendent Sherri Ybarra and her program directors keep in close contact with districts and charter schools, including virtual schools, through weekly webinars to share information and answer questions during this soft closure.

They also stated, "SDE has developed – and keeps updating – an array of online learning resources for educators and for families, including a great resource from iSucceed Virtual High School, which is helping traditional brick and mortar schools transition rapidly to online instruction via several tutorials produced by the school's principal."

"I think it's really important and I'm very thankful that people are realizing that," said

Hilton also has words of advice for all those transitioning to online.

"I encourage them to give themselves a little bit of grace," said Hilton. "it's a learning curve; we're all just doing the best with what we have, and giving themselves some grace while learning in a new way and just trying to make the best of it."

The SDE also offers online resources for parents and students via the Educational Resources for Parents & Educators page of the SDE website. [sde.idaho.gov]