Virtual learning “will be much better” than NTI, say Madison County Schools leaders

Virtual learning directors across the Commonwealth are busy building virtual classrooms.
Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 4:05 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A lot of districts in the state are starting their school year online.

Kentucky’s two largest - Jefferson County and Fayette County - will go virtual this fall and more than a dozen other districts are following their lead.

“One of the things that was really cool someone sent me was called a bitmoji classroom,” notes Drew Muntz. “She had a picture from her home and you could look out her window and it looked like her trees so it gave a really good representation virtually.” Muntz is in charge of technology for all schools in Madison County. The district is one of the top ten largest districts in the state, but it’s not following the lead of the top two. When it comes to virtual this fall, the Madison County School Board is letting parents decide. So far, 30% have said they want their kids in a virtual classroom.

If students enroll in interactive virtual learning, then they’ll have a specific, daily, online schedule come August 26th.

“They may have math in one period in the morning, then they go to reading and a teacher works with them, then they may have some projects offline to do, then have lunch, then they’ll connect back with the teacher again with possibly science, so really about three periods a day where they’re on the computer and interacting with that teacher and then they have some time where they get to work on some projects,” says Muntz.

This tailored learning means districts may be spending more than they budgeted.

“We’ve seen a lot of our school districts really try to beef up their virtual learning opportunities for their students. They’re expending additional dollars to make sure that every student or as many students possible have those devices that they need. They’ll also need to focus on maybe some hot spots for our students that don’t have the accessibility of the bandwidth,” notes Robin Kinney. Kinney works on the finance side of the Kentucky Department of Education. “They’re trying to be respectful of what their families and students need at this unprecedented time, and so the logistics and the expenses of really operating two different instructional worlds could result in additional expenditures as well.”

School starts in Madison County on August 26, and the education association is calling for all virtual classes. So far, the school board has not changed its decision to allow parents to choose.

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