Virtual School Option for 2021-22

MNPS Virtual School Option for Upcoming School Year
Posted on 04/26/2021
Student reading at a computer

The 2020-21 school year was unlike any other before it, with all students learning virtually at some point throughout the school year and some students remaining virtual through the entire time.

This was made possible through a state waiver process, known as the Continuity of Learning Plan, that was specially designed for districts to adjust to the pandemic and prepare for remote or in-person instruction. That waiver process will not be available to school districts in the coming school year, which means that all students enrolled in a traditional, magnet, or charter school will be required to attend in-person.

The exception to this rule is for students enrolled in the MNPS Virtual School. This optional school has been available to students in grades 6-12 for more than 10 years and has been a great choice for students who are motivated to work independently and who respond well to remote support and instruction.

As we move into the 2021-22 school year, this will be the only option for students who want to continue learning virtually in our school district. This means enrolling at MNPS Virtual School as opposed to a zoned, magnet, or charter school.

We know you may have questions about what the in-person learning environment will look like in the upcoming school year. Quite frankly, we wish we had all the answers about when the pandemic will be over, but that is out of our control. What we can say is that we will continue to follow CDC guidance on masks and social-distancing whenever possible, as long as it is deemed to be an essential component to reducing the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff. Going forward, computers will be more integrated into the daily learning life of students, but we will be shifting to a more standard in-person curriculum and leveraging technology as a support tool.

Starting in 2021-22, we will be expanding the MNPS Virtual School option to students in grades 4 and 5. Students in the 4th and 5th grade will receive 20 hours of synchronous (live) instruction, whereas students in grades 6-12 will continue to learn asynchronously (using modules delivered at the student’s own pace). Each student in grades 4-12 will have four hours of PLT for internet- based intervention programs to support reading and math skills, or other needs as identified by the school or district.

Teachers and staff will be on hand to support students throughout the process. Students will have the opportunity to participate in athletics and other school organizations. Elementary and middle school students interested in continuing or beginning sports and other extra-curricular activities will have a chance to participate at their designated zoned school. High school students can participate in athletics through our TSSAA cooperative agreement with Glencliff High School. Other extra-curricular activities for high school students, other than TSSAA sports, will occur at the designated zoned school.

Enrollment will be based on seat availability, and the district is proposing to spend additional funding to expand to grades 4 and 5, and ensure we have enough teaching and staff support to meet the needs of students who apply.

Priority enrollment for MNPS Virtual School opens today and will close on June 1, 2021. This will allow our schools, both the Virtual School and our other district schools, to properly prepare staff and scheduling assignments for their incoming classes.

Attached are some frequently asked questions about the MNPS Virtual School option, as well as a learning path comparison for how virtual school will look for students in grades 4 and 5, and those in grades 6-12. If you are interested in learning more about the MNPS Virtual School, you can visit their website at https://vlearn.mnps.org/ and find links to upcoming Teams Live events where staff will talk about the benefits of this learning option and answer questions from students and families.