AMORY – During Nov. 9’s Amory School Board meeting, district superintendent Ken Byars presented a proposed revision to the school’s virtual learning option, giving students the opportunity to change between virtual and tradition learning more often.
“We made the decision to offer parents a choice of whether to do traditional learning or virtual learning with the option of changing every nine weeks. We figured out that wasn’t enough, so we changed it to four-and-a-half week intervals for them to decide what they would like to do,” he said.
Byars said many of the students who elected the virtual learning option have returned to school for traditional instruction, which he applauded.
“We’ve run into a major problem where we have some virtual students that are falling so far behind that we need to get them back to school. We’ve got to make that happen. We can’t offer a choice anymore for certain students that are falling far behind,” he said.
Byars continues to allow for students to remain home on the basis of a doctor’s statement.
“If they are healthy but not logging in or completing work daily, we need to force them to come back or change to home schooling,” he said. “We’ve made multiple contacts in some cases. What’s bad is the juniors and seniors that are risking not graduating because they won’t do their work.”
Byars gave credit to a large number of students who are doing well with virtual learning but pointed out the lower-performing students who are hurting themselves by making poor choices.
“We can dictate a lot of that at school. We can’t dictate it when they never show up,” he said.
Byars fears some students are approaching a point where they cannot catch up on school work.
“We’re close now since we’re approaching the end of the first semester,” he said.
He suggested a minimum grade of a C in every subject for virtual students to remain in distance learning.
Byars said he would have a policy revision written and placed in force the following Monday once the board members gave their approval to proceed.
Currently, virtual students come to school on Wednesdays to take tests and receive tutoring.
“We have some that don’t even come on Wednesdays,” he said. “If they miss a Wednesday, they have to do two weeks’ worth of assessments the next Wednesday. It’s not a good fit if they don’t keep up.”
In other business, Byars reported a two percent decrease in average daily student attendance.
“Many of these absences come from our virtual students rather than traditional students,” he said.
He was pleased that the rate was not higher as he expected due to COVID-19 cases.
“I’ve talked to many district superintendents, and everybody’s down in student ADAs,” he said. “We get a lot of absences from virtual students’ failure to turn in work by Fridays.”
The school board voted to accept a donation of a camera from Amory High School alumnus Luke Flippo.
“He did multiple things while at school. One of them was that he took amazing pictures. Apparently, he decided to donate his camera back to the school district. I think it’s great,” Byars said.