Pine City School District Start Online Academy

As the district was looking to grow and innovate coming out of the pandemic, Pine City School has unveiled its new online academy available to students K-12 for the 2021-2022 school year.

Director of Teaching and Learning for Pine City Schools Nichole Laven told WCMP that this grew from an announcement that the Minnesota Department of Education had created a provisional permit for schools looking to create more permanent distance learning options.

"We jumped at the opportunity to offer stakeholders (Pine City families) educational choice that some students found successful during the pandemic, and some families face unique situations where online learning fits," Laven said.

The Pine City Schools Online Academy was designed by the district to support the needs of all students. Both elementary and high school students will do the bulk of their learning virtually, but the district has built-in four points of daily contact with Pine City teaching staff beyond the virtual learning.

"We didn't want to have a program where it was just online," Laven told WCMP. "We recognize that residents in Pine City value that in-person contact and connections that our teachers and support staff make with students."

According to the district, programming for students will be modified based on grade level.

"Elementary student's (K-6) access to core content will be delivered solely through a virtual teaching module program with built-in scheduled times to engage with Pine City Public Schools staff members. One point of contact could include a daily Morning Meeting, while the other three will depend on enrollment, academic need, and daily google meet check-ins.

Secondary student's (7-12) access to core content will be virtually; however, the schedule 7-12 students will follow is a block schedule with includes traditional class periods for Google Meets. During periods 2, 3, 5, and 6 Online Academy students will participate in academic check-ins, progress monitoring feedback, remediation/acceleration, questions, and answer sessions and be expected to report daily to these periods for a 10-minute google meet facilitated by Pine City High School licensed staff."

These connections will allow for teaching staff to check in with students and answer any questions or make real-life connections to content learned through the virtual teacher.

To meet the staffing needs, Laven says staff schedules will be moved around. Like, where a teacher is working supervisory duty, they would instead handle online instruction. The district made a point to use Pine City staff to monitor progress.

Superintendent for Pine City Schools Paula Foley believes it is important to keep students who want a different form of education to still feel like they are a part of a local community.

"We don't want to lose those kids to having no identity... We want them to walk across our stage for graduation and be proud to be Dragons."

Families are asked to sign up students for a full year, but the required minimum is one semester.

The last day to apply for the academy is Friday, August 20. Head to the Pine City Schools website for more information and to sign up.

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