The program has an acceptance rate well below 50%, with 200 students currently enrolled out of around 480 applicants, said Scott Tipton, inaugural director of the new program and former deputy director of CW Davis Middle School.
Over the past week, Tipton said he has received an influx of around 20 more requests, including many parents who are “upset” that the masks are not needed and “concerned for their child’s safety. As COVID-19 cases multiply across the county.
But most parents cite other reasons for enrolling in the program, Tipton said.
âThe main reason I heard most of the parents we spoke with is that they like it,â Tipton said. “They liked the flexibility of it, they liked being able to be there with their child longer during the day.”
âYes, there are some who were concerned about the pandemic,â he said. “But for the majority of people, it was really that their kid was doing really well with it, and they thought it was the best place for them.”
Students must meet a host of criteria including an unweighted GPA of 2.5, internet access and home tutoring, satisfactory demeanor and attendance records, no fail grades on their transcripts. and, above all, a demonstrated success in a virtual environment.
Applications are always accepted with no fixed deadline at this time. Parents must sign an insurance form that commits their child to a full school year. Once the school year begins on August 6, students cannot opt ââout of the program and move on to in-person learning.
The program is available for grade 3 through high school graduates. First and second graders are not included because they tend to require in-person learning more than higher levels, Tipton said. Of the 200 or so students, just under 40 are in elementary school, more than 50 in middle school and around 100 in high school.
Class sizes range from 10 to 29 students, Tipton said, and regular classes will be held four days a week. Friday classes for all grade levels will be dedicated to a âtime of social and mental awareness,â Tipton said, where students will socialize with their peers and learn to cope with stress and other emotional issues. Online course hours vary by grade level – around 20 minutes for elementary school students and 30 to 45 minutes for middle and high school students. A middle school student, for example, may spend 10 hours a week receiving direct instruction in their online classes.
Registered students will always be affiliated with their home school.
âA Cherokee Bluff high school student is always a Cherokee Bluff high school student,â Tipton said. “They take their pictures there, they can always get a phone book, they can go to ball games, they can participate in athletics.”
Tipton expects the program’s new website to go live next week and is excited to lead Hall County’s new e-learning experience.
âOne of the things that I have challenged our teachers when we have met a few times is that this is not a standard school,â he said. âSo don’t think inside the box, think outside the box. Imagine – now we can have things shot down by the county and they say, “no you’re not going to do that” – but it’s a chance for us to be as innovative as we want to try to be and come up with new ideas on education.
âAll of our schools are doing incredibly inventive and innovative things,â he said. “But I thought it was just another way to do something a little bit creative and inventive, and do it in this virtual world and see if we can start something really, really great.”