ACCEL Schools proudly announced three learning options for its tuition-free, public charter schools for the 2020-21 school year. Parents had the flexibility to choose from Traditional, Online, and Hybrid learning options to meet the unique needs of their family.
“We’re a community school, and it was important to us to consider the needs of our community as we began making our plans to reopen for the 20-21 school year,” says Natalee Long, Senior Vice President of ACCEL Schools. “Not every family’s circumstances allow for at-home learning, and likewise, not every student is successful learning online 100% of the time, so we had to get creative with options for families. We will follow government safety guidelines and requisite operating restrictions, but as long as we are given the flexibility, we want to pass that along to families by providing as many learning options as possible.”
“Last spring as schools began closing, we began hearing from parents who begged for our schools to remain open. Like other schools, we had to close when face-to-face instruction was suspended across the state. As the situation unfolded, we noticed a shift by early summer where additional parents were asking for online options for the new school year,” says Dr. Rodney Bly, Superintendent of the Hope Academies in Cleveland and Case Preparatory Academy in Akron. “We responded by surveying all of our parents the first week of July asking for their thoughts and comfort level with multiple learning scenarios. We were very interested to see an even split between the three options—one-third wanted Traditional, one-third Online, and one-third Hybrid. We felt very compelled to respond to the needs of our families in a comprehensive way.”
As a charter school management organization that operates over 50 brick-and-mortar, hybrid, and virtual schools in five states, ACCEL Schools is uniquely positioned to support the full array of options with its internal expertise and resources. Regardless of learning model, all students followed the same curricular scope and sequence each week to achieve mastery of Ohio Learning Standards organized in the proprietary ACCEL Management Platform© (AMP).
“The beauty of AMP is that students have the opportunity to stay on track with their learning regardless of whether they can come to school or not,” says Ron Packard, President of ACCEL Schools. “This is crucial, as we do not know how long the pandemic will play out nor what additional guidelines our schools may be asked to follow throughout the year. With AMP, parents can choose whatever option is best for their family, and if that option gets restricted, their student can continue to progress as planned through the Online model.”
In ACCEL’s Traditional model, students received in-person learning at the school five days per week. Safety guidelines established by the CDC and Ohio Department of Health were rigorously followed, including daily assessment for symptoms, hand washing and sanitization, cleaning and sanitizing shared surfaces, and following a mandated face-covering policy. A ten-week of supply of n95 masks for teachers and 3-ply surgical masks for students went to each school.
In the Online model, students learned from their home environment under the guidance of classroom teachers supported by parents. Schools loaned laptops to students on an as-needed basis and reimbursed the cost of home Internet for students who met the eligibility requirement which includes ongoing attendance and participation. “Grab and Go” meals were available as part of the free breakfast and lunch program.
The Hybrid model was a mix where students learned at the school building two days of the week and then logged on from home for the remaining three days of the school week. Students wore masks and followed all safety guidelines in place for at-school learning days. Hybrid students were grouped together in learning pods located throughout the campus to maximize social distancing and continued their coursework with the support of a Class Facilitator.
“We believe families deserve the ultimate choice in schooling options anytime, and especially during the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Packard. “It is our goal to ensure every student has access to a safe, and high-quality education, and parents can make whatever choices they need to make for their family.”