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Fate of virtual learning still uncertain
Grant Swallows headshot.jpg
Swallows

An attempt to offer Warren County students a chance at virtual learning during the upcoming school year is causing real-life issues. 

The Depart-ment of Education has shown resistance to Warren County School System’s request to provide a virtual learning environment to some of its students. However, Director of Schools Grant Swallows expressed confidence virtual learning will be approved. 

“You all approved a virtual school at our last meeting,” said Swallows, to members of the Warren County School Board on Monday. “I will tell you that I was very, very confident that we would have that approved and things would go smoothly through that. Over the course of the last week or so, the Department of Education has kind of given us a little bit of push back on that. I’m happy to report that Dr. (Courtney) Bennett has done a ton of work over the course of the last 48 hours and we believe we are on the right track to get that virtual school approved.”

Even if a virtual school is approved, it will be much different than last school year when anyone could enroll and attend remotely. Swallows says state officials want all students to return to a traditional classroom setting. Of those who apply for virtual school, a select few will be accepted, he said. 

“We will have a virtual learning environment for those who apply and are accepted,” said Swallows. “Everyone else will learn in person five days a week. Understand, also, that the state has said that there will be no virtual learning opportunities outside that. It will not be like what we had last year. We will not go virtual learning one week and be in person the next week. We will be in person, unless the governor declares a state of emergency. We do not anticipate that happening.” 

It is unknown if the state Department of Education will set down guidelines for the use of online learning. However, Gov. Bill Lee is urging the use of remote learning for emergencies only.

“There’s no alternative for effective teaching than the in-person method,” said Lee. 

Warren County Schools will definitely establish guidelines, said Swallows, but those will not be created until after permission to offer virtual learning is given.