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Students opt for digital learning

Superintendent Tim Cochran announced that 952 students have signed up for the remote learning option as of Thursday during the Board of Education meeting.

Cochran said that this amount of students is approximately 20 percent from every school.

For elementary students, this means they will participate in the remote learning process for a nine-week period, while high school students will participate in it for one semester.

Due to this number of students, Cochran requested the Board to move the school start date back a week and open on August 12. This later date will allow for Cochran to re-roster and reschedule students and move some teachers from in person to digital.

“We knew this would happen, but it is going to be a larger batch than we expected,” Cochran said. “Logistically, this would give teachers a longer time to prep for this rescheduling.”

The later start date would not have any impact on the school calendar. Cochran told Board members they would just eliminate those five days at the end of the year, because they are no longer bound to a 180- day school year.

Cochran has been roughly tracking the number of students signing up for remote learning since the sign up began on Monday.

On Monday, he saw approximately 600 students sign up and by Tuesday the number jumped to between 680-700 students.

Wednesday, the Decatur County School System opened up remote learning for K-2 students and saw the number dramatically increase.

“The demand for K-2 was there, and I knew we would lose students to surrounding counties if we didn’t also,” Cochran said.

Cochran said he believes the bulk of students who want to sign up for remote learning have now signed up, but sign up is open until Sunday.

Cochran wants every parent to make the best decision for their child, but children in grades especially K-2 need to have a parent or guardian going through the lessons with them. 

“You have to be very dedicated, when the teacher goes offline, you have to continue to finish the lesson with your child,” Cochran said.

Some teachers will now be virtual only, while some teachers will be teaching virtual classes during their planning period or during their extended day time.

The remote learning options offer all of the classes necessary, however students choosing the remote learning option over the in-person choice at Bainbridge High School understand there are limited options for electives.

The remote learning option also prevents students from participating in after-school activities that would require a class not offered virtually.

This will not apply to the marching band.

Band director, James Sewell has said for this year he will allow students who were in marching band last year to rejoin marching band, even if they are participating in remote learning. They will be allowed to join under an after school activity. However, no new marching band members who are in remote learning will be allowed to join.

Sports participants will be allowed to play, because weight-lifting is not required, although recommended as a pre-cursor to the sport.

In order to prepare for remote learning, the BOE has purchased Ingenuity for Hutto Middle School that offers Tutor Base to students.

Students can be tutored online by a professional tutor at no charge through the Ingenuity platform. Board members are hoping this platform will help students who may be struggling to grasp a subject virtually.

The BOE will be sending out additional information of online times students will meet for their distance-learning environment on Monday.