Roseburg Public Schools is ready to launch its own online option, RPS Virtual School, at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
“We’ve done our homework, we’ve got the latest and most up-to-date instructional materials and instructional practices and platforms,” said Michelle Knee, RPS assistant superintendent and director of teaching and learning. “We’ve done tons of research and reaching out and we feel confident in our plan.”
The elementary school classes will be facilitated by Roseburg school district teachers utilizing the Florida Virtual School platform. At the secondary level, the district will initially use the Apex Learning program and teachers. It plans to transition to district educators in the 2022-2023 school year.
The learning platforms were recommended by other schools that already have established online programs and tested by Roseburg administrators.
As of Thursday, Knee estimated approximately 15% of students districtwide were enrolled in remote learning options the school district is currently offering.
RPS Virtual School will be a part of the school district and its students will be able to participate in sports, clubs and other activities the district has to offer.
Rob Peterson, an 11th grader, has been attending virtual school since the start of his high school career.
“It’s better than a public school, I’ll tell you that,” Peterson said. “I really don’t have to deal with a million people running around.”
Peterson has high-functioning autism and opted to go to a virtual school because he didn’t perform well in a traditional classroom. He was part of a study group through the district, but that was canceled due to COVID-19.
Peterson has been attending Connections Academy through Roseburg Public Schools and will likely transfer to the new virtual option next year. Connections Academy will no longer be an option, but Knee said the new virtual option will be similar.
“It’s similar but more engaging and easier to navigate,” Knee said. “And yes, everything will transfer because our Connections students are still Roseburg Public Schools students.”
The new RPS Virtual School will offer asynchronous learning options allowing students the freedom to study on their own schedule.
Peterson and his grandmother and primary caregiver Susan Bryan like to get up later in the morning, but still start school within about an hour of waking up in the morning.
“I can’t believe we got up at 6 a.m. for all those years,” Bryan said.
Peterson said math is his favorite course, but he struggles with language arts because its not as interactive as a course.
“The downfall with a lot of these online school systems is that most of the time there’s not someone on the other end,” Peterson said.
To be able to help him with his struggles in classes, his teachers are available to help when he makes an appointment with them.
Roseburg Public Schools will incorporate that option in its online platform as well. And with district teachers there will be an option for tutoring and meeting in-person, if needed.
The school district will start the virtual school and start gathering data on its effectiveness to make sure this is the right investment for the district and the community.
Teachers for the elementary school will be working from the Rose School building, which will be vacated since the alternative school is merged with the high school.
There will be one teacher for each grade level at the elementary school, which will be overseen by Coordinator of Teaching and Learning Dani Jardine. Jardine will also oversee the virtual middle school students.
The district is still working on details for the secondary students in grades 6-12, but Knee said the plan is to have several district teachers in 2022-2023 dedicated 25% to the virtual school and 75% to the traditional school. An assistant principal at the high school will oversee the virtual school for grades 9-12.