The rising comfort level families have with COVID-19 precautions taken by Manteca Unified for in-person learning for the school year starting Wednesday is reflected in a large drop-off in the MUSD Online Academy enrollment.
While enrollment is still growing for the online academy, it was at 530 students as of midweek.
The January-May 2001 session had 1,800 students enrolled.
The district was already planning for a tailor-made 100 percent online academy when the pandemic closed schools in March 2020 forcing the switch to distance learning.
When the last school year started, the online academy had 1,100 students enrolled. At the same time distant learning at traditional schools continued with parents apprised at the start of the year the district’s goal was to move to hybrid learning and then 100 percent in-person learning as soon as it was safe to do so.
The online academy enrollment ballooned to 1,800 in the second half of the school year after the winter break when the district made it clear traditional schools would not give students the option of remaining 100 percent distant learning as some districts were allowing.
The reason was simple. It would avoid creating a situation where classroom teachers were essentially teaching two classrooms at a time — one that was hybrid learning on target to return to 100 percent in person learning and another that was exclusively online learning.
The district had been planning to offer an online academy utilizing their own professional and certificated educators long before most people even heard of coronaviruses and months before COVID-19 became part of the daily lexicon.
It was a concept born from the desire to best serve individual student needs with the understanding an online platform designed using core requirements in math, science, the English language, arts, and social students tailored by the district’s experienced teaching staff would be one way of achieving such a goal. As such, personalized learning as opposed to software driven lesson are at the core of the online academy.
It also incorporates electives that provide the A-G requirements needed for admission to the University of California system.
There are no shortcuts as students face the same time commitment to class learning as do those still on a traditional learning track. As an example, a high school student at the Manteca Online Academy is required to be in class 240 minutes a day just like their peers at the Sierra, Manteca, East Union, Lathrop, and Weston Ranch campuses.
Parental involvement in the education of their child is a hallmark of the online academy strategy of delivering the best possible education to each student.
There are in-person learning sessions as individuals and groups to re-enforce online learning. They place at the oldest elementary school structure in Manteca built in 1950 as the Yosemite School replacement that subsequently served as the Sequoia School Annex and then the Manteca Community Day School. The West Yosemite Avenue campus is where the faculty is housed.
Students are also able to participate in extra-curricular activities at their “home schools” — the elementary or high school attendance area where they reside — when COVID-19 conditions allow it. That applies to sports, clubs and such that occur outside a regularly scheduled class. Band, as an example, would not work as an extracurricular activity an online academy student could participate in at their home school.
The online academy’s website notes, “The virtual classroom gives families the flexibility to schedule school wherever they are, at times that work best for their schedule, and at a pace that works best for their child. Some coursework and live sessions do need to take place at fixed times. Students can learn anywhere, anytime; all they need is a computer and connection to the internet.”
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