JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An email sent to parents of Duval County Public Schools virtual students in elementary grades announcing a new, virtual learning option for the 2021-22 school year came only a few hours after the district announced Duval HomeRoom will not be offered in the fall.
“Feedback we are receiving from many of you suggests that a large portion of our Duval HomeRoom children are planning to return to regular, school-based instruction with the new school year,” a Tuesday email from Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said. “However, we also know that for some of you, access to remote learning will still be needed next year due to the persistent impacts of COVID-19.”
The email aimed to gauge the intent of parents whose primary-level children are still engaged in Duval HomeRoom, on how they plan to enroll their child for the next school year. It asked the families to respond by selecting one of four options by June 3:
- Return to face-to-face instruction at their assigned school,
- Enroll in Duval Virtual Instruction Academy (DVIA) full-time,
- Enroll in Duval Virtual Instruction Academy (DVIA) HomeRoom, or
- Private School, charter school, home school or another option.
The third option, DVIA HomeRoom, will be new for the coming academic year and will operate in a similar fashion as Duval HomeRoom while being run through the DVIA platform.
“It will utilize the Microsoft Teams platform and will consist of synchronous (live in real time) instruction,” Greene’s email said. “This means that students will continue to have a regular class schedule and will be expected to log on to each of their classes on time.”
The DVIA HomeRoom format will not be available to middle and high school students, only in-person or DVIA.
“Middle and high school students will also have the option to enroll in DVIA’s asynchronous program,” a blog post on Team Duval said. “Because secondary student course requirements are so varied, it is not possible to provide all the courses needed in both the synchronous and asynchronous platforms.”
About 19,000 students are learning through Duval HomeRoom, according to the district.
Rolline Sullivan is a mother of four DCPS students who have been using Duval HomeRoom. She said she expects the oldest three to be vaccinated by the fall but she’s unsure about her third-grade son.
“So that is an option that I wish that they had continued, you know, as far as keeping Duval HomeRoom available,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said she said likes the idea of DVIA HomeRoom, but it would mean her third grader would have to leave his magnet program and reapply later.
“So at that time, he would be in fifth grade, and the spots over fifth grade are very limited and, you know, pretty much you wouldn’t be able to get back into a school,” Sullivan said.
What’s the difference?
While Duval HomeRoom allowed students to remain connected to their neighborhood school, DVIA HomeRoom would see all of its students enrolled in one school under DVIA, which Greene said will boost efficiency and ease the schedule strain on teachers and students.
Also, DVIA HomeRoom students may be required to physically go to a school site for test-taking, which isn’t allowed online.
Furthermore, DVIA HomeRoom will require all students to keep their cameras on during class time, unless teachers allow them to turn the cameras off.
Finally, because students in DVIA HomeRoom would no longer be assigned to their neighborhood school, any students in a magnet program or special transfer option would need to reapply.
How do I make a selection?
DCPS is asking parents to submit their intended enrollment option by June 3, which can be done via the FOCUS parent account. Users can select the respective student and fill out the form titled “Elementary 2021-2022 Enrollment Intent.”