Anne Arundel County schools envision ‘virtual academy’

For the most part, it is expected that public schools in Maryland will be bringing children back to classrooms five days a week this fall. But that does not mean some school systems have not seen some benefit to virtual instruction either.

Several school systems around the D.C. region plan to offer virtual instruction again in the fall, although with far fewer students and generally in a much different manner than what students experienced this school year.

Earlier this week, Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent George Arlotto revealed more details about his school system’s plans for a “virtual academy” this fall.

He said while many of the details still need to be worked out, virtual instruction that will be offered next year will barely resemble what students have gone through this year.

“It will be for a limited number of students for very specific purposes,” said Arlotto. “That student that might have a physical disability, that student that might have a specific family circumstance in which full remote learning is best.”

He stressed it will not be hybrid learning like many students are receiving this year.

Students in the virtual academy won’t see the inside of a school building and they would receive very little live instruction; as opposed to this year, when students learning virtually are still expected to be on their computers at certain times.

“I say that purposely because that’s what we have in our mind because that’s where we are right now as a school system,” said Arlotto. “When we talk about virtual learning, we’re talking about 100% virtual learning.”

The hope is that federal money stimulus money will cover most or all of the costs associated with the technological build out of the new academy.

“It’ll be mostly asynchronous,” he added. “Certainly some synchronous instruction and one-on-one time with their teachers, but it’ll be predominantly asynchronous learning and that is the best practice in the virtual academy.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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