JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County school district’s annual School Choice Expo will be virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Duval County Public Schools is a choice district, which means students can attend schools outside their attendance area zones through the school choice application process. The expo -- which will be held Saturday, Jan. 9 -- will allow families to tour schools and speak with school leaders from home.
And while the expo isn’t until next month, DCPS has an online platform where families can get a sneak peek at the virtual event. The platform allows families to get the same, or better, access to the schools, services and partnerships that the district has to offer -- from charter schools to magnet programs to Duval Virtual Instruction Academy. The site was still under construction as of Monday, but it allows users to start researching different schools and programs and begin planning which ones they would like to explore at the expo.
Here are some tips to make the most of the platform:
- Create a “Show Planner Account”: While there is no registration needed to attend the expo, families are encouraged to create a “Show Planner account,” which allows users to sign up and view live school presentations, organize their schedule, and make appointments to communicate with school leaders, district staff and exhibitors.
- Pretend you’re shopping: Families are shopping for the best school option, and in the virtual platform, the expo is a market, the schools are the different groceries and the “Show Planner Account” is the grocery cart. Families can fill up their carts with not just schools but other exhibitors such as vendors and district officers. To place something in the “Show Planner Account,” click the plus sign icon on the right-hand corner.
- Chat with Office of School Choice: School Choice staff will be available throughout the virtual expo on Jan. 9 via a special chat feature. Visit here on the day of the expo.
- Searching for schools: Find schools of interest by using the links under “Shortcut.” You can also click on “Exhibitor’s List.” This tab will open a page where schools are alphabetized and searchable by name. Each school has its own profile page, which includes information about the school, including its overall performance grade and how many Advanced Placement courses it offers. Then it lists the live events that will be happening at the expo and allows families to sign up to grab a spot in one of these virtual sessions. There’s also a full list of student organizations and extracurriculars at the school, additional data, and a virtual tour of the campus.
Here are some additional steps to prepare for the expo:
- Get a parent account and link it to your child: This is essential because school choice applications are only available if the parent or guardian has a parent account and it is linked to their student. Visit www.duvalschools.org/focus for a step-by-step guide to creating a parent account and linking it to the student.
- Contact the Office of School Choice: Questions can be sent to email@example.com. Also, as a new feature, families can go online to schedule an appointment with a school choice specialist. To make an appointment, visit www.duvalschools.org/schoolchoice and click on “Make an Appointment.”
- Register for “School Choice” Parent Academy courses in January: The Parent Academy is offering virtual courses the first week in January to help families prepare for school choice season. Registration information is below and in the January-March 2021 catalog:
- “DCPS is a Choice District. What does that mean for you?” (Elementary session); Tuesday, Jan. 5; 6-7 p.m. Register here.
- “DCPS is a Choice District. What does that mean for you?” (Middle and high schoolsSession); Tuesday, Jan. 5; 7-8 p.m. Register here.
- “School Choice Expo. Everything you need to know”; Thursday, Jan. 7; 6:30-7:30 p.m. Register here.
For those who want to take advantage of school choice, the application window is from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28.