State working on virtual K-12 school option for 2020 academic year

Updated: Jun. 14, 2020 at 5:16 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - School will look a lot different in the fall because of the pandemic, and the state is working feverishly on a virtual alternative to debut by August.

The state has to make sure an online alternative is available to all school districts so students can learn safely from home.

The sudden closure of schools in the spring was trial by fire for everyone involved.

"In many cases, teachers were having to develop lesson plans and then upload those lessons and find a way to deliver those lessons through some kind of management system,” said Dr Eric Mackey, Alabama State Superintendent of Schools.

In school districts across the state, students, parents and teachers encountered technical difficulties and frustration.

"We think it will be better this coming year,” said Mackey.

The state has nine bids for a virtual schooling platform and intends to make a decision by the end of this month, perhaps even within the next week.

"It'll be up to each local school system to work on what their policy is going to be,” he said.

The state is also working to address technology challenges, including students with little to no access to the internet.

"We are talking about devices, mobile WiFi and what might be necessary because there are definitely pockets of the state that are hard to reach, even with a mobile WiFi enabled device, but those are the pieces we are currently working on putting into place,” said Mackey.

Dr. Mackey says there will be guides to better help parents use the new system and help their students, should they choose virtual school over the classroom.

There will also be a comprehensive guide to keeping schools cleaned and sanitized that school districts can adapt to their own unique needs across the state.

Expect more information from the state in the coming weeks.

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