A breakdown of Katy ISD's Virtual Academy option for 2020-21 school year

KATY, Texas -- For the 2020-21 school year, Katy ISD will offer Katy Virtual Academy as an online learning option for students whose families do not want them to attend school in-person.

At the July 27 regular meeting of the KISD board of trustees, Chief Academic Officer Christine Caskey and other staff provided additional details regarding KVA and how it will differ from online learning during the last months of the 2019-20 school year.

KISD has designed KVA in accordance with the guidelines set by the Texas Education Agency, and KVA follows the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and KISD curriculum standards, Caskey said.

In particular, following curriculum standards is essential to ensure seamless transition between in-person and virtual learning in case students choose to return to in-person instruction or campuses are temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Caskey said.

"We have developed the curriculum to be flexible enough so that teachers will be able to transition to that virtual environment with their students," Caskey said. "Not like the spring. It needs to be more robust in the spring, and we know that, and we understand that."

Below are eight things to know about KVA:

1. KVA is separate from temporary online learning for in-person students

For the first three weeks of school, all KISD students will be taught virtually regardless of whether they signed up for KVA. When schools are temporarily closed, teachers assigned to in-person classes will instruct their students virtually until the campus reopens, according to the district's Smart Restart plan, which is available online. KISD calls this "intermittent home to school instruction."

2. KISD will select KVA teachers

The district is choosing teachers who are experts in using educational technology and will provide them with additional, specific training on KVA, Caskey said. Teachers assigned to in-person classes will also receive additional training.

"They'll receive ongoing job embedded support to continuously improve their practice and virtual learning and have time to plan and collaborate with other teachers," Caskey said. "Our August training schedule is very robust."

Caskey said the district cannot guarantee that a KVA student is assigned a KVA teacher from his or her zoned school but plans to try to do this to the best of its ability.

3. Teachers will monitor KVA student attendance and progress

KVA teachers will be trained in how to monitor students' attendance, engagement and performance as well as identify any learning gaps, Caskey said. This is important because attendance drives school funding.

4. KVA students will be taught in two-way, real-time, live instruction on a defined daily schedule

To receive funding, KISD must provide at least three hours of instruction for elementary students and four hours for secondary students, Caskey said. Teachers will be able to choose to instruct the entire class, small groups or provide one-on-one conferencing with students.

"I want to be clear that that does not mean that students are going to sit continuously for four hours in front of a computer monitor," Caskey said. "The students may break off after a lecture into some small-group work or some individual work."

Additionally, teachers will set daily office hours to be available for students and families, and the district will provide accommodations for student with disabilities, for English language learners and for gifted and talented students.

5. KVA students will be provided a device if they do not have one

The district will provide KVA students a technology device to access their real-time instruction and complete assignments if they do not have their own device at home, Caskey said. This will also be the case for intermittent home-to-school instruction.

KISD plans to also create instructional videos for parents to help them understand how to use and set up the devices, Caskey said.

Additionally, KVA students will have access to all other instructional materials needed, such as textbooks or calculators.

6. Families interested in KVA enrollment must inform KISD

Parents and guardians who choose to enroll their children in KVA must submit a KVA commitment form by Aug. 5. They can revoke this choice by midnight Aug. 7.

"This will ensure students have the same teacher on September 8, regardless of whether KVA or in-person instruction is elected," the Smart Restart website reads. "On September 8, the goal is to resume plans to reopen campuses for both in-person instruction and virtual instruction."

Parents who want their children to attend in-person classes do not have to submit anything to the district regarding this choice.

7. KVA students can choose to return to in-person instruction

This choice is only available after grading periods end, Caskey said. Students will be assigned a new in-person classroom teacher.

Additionally, in-person students can choose to enroll in KVA instruction after the first grading period, according to a July 26 KVA newsletter.

8. Additional information about KVA is available online

The district has produced several web pages with information about KVA and has provided a set of FAQs. If parents or students have additional questions, they can email kva@katyisd.org. Teachers can email returntowork@katyisd.org.

The video in the post is from a previous story.

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