The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board unanimously approved Tuesday night adding a virtual learning option for some kindergarten through second grade students whose doctors sign off based on medical need.
Virtual school for these grades hasn’t been an option, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials. For the school year that opened Aug. 25, CMS introduced two new virtual schools in addition to its virtual high school. The trio of schools serve students in grades 3-12.
District leaders have maintained that children in grades K-2 learn better with in-person instruction. But the steady rise of COVID-19 cases, particularly in late summer, had parents clamoring for more remote or virtual opportunities. Numerous parents have reached out to the district requesting a virtual option for K-2 students, including during public comment portions of recent school board meetings.
Board members approved the expansion of CMS’ virtual school options on a 7-0 vote during the meeting.
“This is a (really) positive step,” board member Margaret Marshall said.
K-2 students with a documented medical or health condition may apply for the virtual school beginning Oct. 4, 2021. For placement at the beginning of the second quarter, which is Nov. 1, families should apply by 10 p.m., Oct. 10.
A completed medical packet signed by the student’s physician is required. Applications received after Oct. 10, will be reviewed on a rolling basis and students will be admitted periodically throughout the quarter.
In CMS, virtual academies popular
Last month, the state made it possible for North Carolina school districts to be more aggressive in creating virtual learning options amid surges in COVID-19 cases.
Districts have to consider all virtual options by Friday — school boards must adopt a virtual instruction plan and submit it to the state’s Department of Public Instruction by Oct. 1.
Earlier this month, nearly 2,600 students were enrolled in the CMS virtual academies: 880 in elementary, 962 in middle and 756 in high school. At the time, more than 600 students were on waiting lists for the virtual schools, which have dedicated staffs, unlike last year’s full-remote academy. Educators involved in the full-remote academy were responsible for both remote and in-person instruction.
Matt Hayes, the district’s deputy superintendent of academics, said Tuesday night that there is still a wait list of students for the virtual schools.