School 2.0 — First 10 B-UHS students enroll in virtual classes

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TENNERTON – Starting this month, a select group of Buckhannon-Upshur High School students will be able to log in to their classes instead of walking into them.

Following an Upshur County Board of Education vote in October 2018 to pass a timeline for implementing the Upshur County Schools Virtual School Policy, 10 B-UHS students have enrolled in virtual classes through the West Virginia Virtual School this semester.

On Friday, Buckhannon-Upshur High School counselor Teresa Knight said for this first semester, the Virtual School program was limited to 10 participants.

“We did have several applicants,” Knight said. “During our discussions as a group, Upshur County BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples only wanted us to have 10 students this first semester.”

Knight said the group selected those 10 students, who attended an orientation program Thursday, Jan. 3, during which the enrollees and their families met to learn more about the program.

“Gloria Burdette, the West Virginia State Virtual School contact, was here and reviewed the information about the program with the students and their parents,” Knight said.

Knight said the students have each selected different virtual classes based on their graduation needs.

“It was a personal plan based upon what they need, so not everyone is in the same virtual class,” she explained. “Hopefully, this program will be expanded next school year.”

Although the West Virginia Virtual School currently provides classes for students in grades 6-12 and will eventually add elementary school curriculums, Upshur County Schools is only allowing high school students to enroll during the initial semester.

Knight said the committee working on the Virtual School program at B-UHS includes board office administrators, board members, herself and B-UHS vice principal Randall Roy.

More than 250 courses are available through West Virginia Virtual School, including both core, election and Advanced Placement courses. Online instructors monitor students’ progress and issue at a percentage grade – not a letter grade – following a course’s completion, according to information on the W.Va. Department of Education’s West Virginia Virtual School website.

But that online instructor must work on collaboration with a local school “co-teacher,” mentor or facilitator, who is assigned at the county level, the Virtual School website says.

Virtual classes offered to high school students beginning this month include ones in math, social studies, reading, language arts, literature and science, as well as lots of elective classes like first aid, Spanish, career planning, photography, guitar and many more.

The West Virginia Virtual School website says students may only take two courses per semester unless the school system or a student’s parent or guardian is willing to pay for more. And although public, private and home school students may enroll in virtual classes, all students are required to be registered at a local public school system in the West Virginia Education Information System as at least a part-time student to be eligible for virtual classes enrollment.

The virtual courses can be accessed 24/7 to meet the student’s schedule, and in addition, enrolled students can participate in all school activities, compete athletically and graduate using the credits earned through the Virtual School program, according to the state Department of Education website. The state Virtual School works as a partner with local public school systems and doesn’t possess the ability to issue diplomas itself.

West Virginia Virtual School was created by the West Virginia Legislature on July 1, 2000.

Details of the Buckhannon-Upshur Virtual School program are available by calling the school at 304-472-3720. Information is also online at https://buhs.upshurschools.com/.