Enrollment for the new school will begin June 1 and run through July 20, according to Bradley County Virtual School principal Zoe Renfro.
Applications and supporting documentation will be completed online via the Bradley County Virtual School website.
The school received state approval April 20, after the Bradley County Board of Education submitted an application to add this option for students.
“It was something we had been wanting to do, but couldn’t do until the legislation was passed ... in July,” Renfro said. “What it did was allow all school systems in the state to create a virtual school if they so chose.”
This opportunity is available to third- through 12th-grade students who meet the requirements. To participate, students must have acess to a computer with high-speed Internet and a printer.
School is set to start for virtual students on Aug. 6.
One informational meeting for parents has been held, and another has been scheduled.
“We had five parents to show up who were interested in what we were offering — three who indicated they would be interested in enrolling their child or children in this school,” Renfro said.
Another informational meeting will be held on May 8 at Goal Academy at 6:30 p.m.
For this first year, Renfro is hoping to have at least 20 to 30 students enrolled in the school.
“If we get more than that, we will be delighted,” Renfro said.
The school system hopes parents considering or currently home schooling will consider virtual school as a less expensive alternative. Cost of curriculum will be covered by the school system.
All of the work will be completed online through ODYSSEYWARE. However, some of the English courses will necessitate students finding a copy of required reading. Renfro said these titles are available at the public library and some are available for download to an e-reader.
Virtual school students will be required to complete 32.5 hours of class work online each week.
Teachers will be available for parents and students both virtually and in person. Renfro said the school is encouraging teachers to plan field trips for their classes.
Students will be required to “attend” class once a month. Some of these group classes will be via the computer while others may require the student to go to an event with fellow students.
“If the science teacher wants to do an experiment with a rocket or something, they may meet at the park and go through that process at the park one afternoon,” Renfro said.
Teachers will also be able to assign group projects for the students to complete in the online platform.
“The teachers are going to be required to be in touch with the students a minimum of once a week, and with the parent a minimum of once a month,” Renfro said.
The virtual school will follow the same grading schedule as other schools in the Bradley County system with report cards coming out every nine weeks.
Each teacher will have office hours in which they will be available to students and parents who are struggling with the material. Each participating family will have the cellphone numbers of the teachers they are working with.
She said this option gives the parent more interaction with their students and provides opportunities for them to learn together.
Teachers will also be available to provide tutoring on certain days.
Tests required by the state will still be given in a traditional proctored classroom, since these tests cannot be taken online.
The virtual school will still be required to meet federal and state benchmarks in each category, just like any other public school.
More information about Bradley County Virtual School is available on the website at http://bradleyvirtualschool.org/.