Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools are set to open for the 2020-2021 academic year on location, giving parents or guardians the option of sending students in or enrolling in classes virtually (although the enrollment deadline for virtual classes is July 30 1800 hrs EDT).
Classes take place in brick-and-mortar schools, with no alternating days, half days, or staggered schedules, “to the maximum extent possible,” the activity stated.
Registration for the virtual option opened July 28, with classes beginning Aug. 24.
That said, DoDEA intends to accommodate concerns about COVID-19 as it proceeds with the academic schedule. The agency is providing school districts with guidelines and protocols aimed at fostering the safety of students, families, faculty and staff.
The virtual option will be open to students in grades K-12 for the first semester. Teachers who conduct these classes will follow the models of instruction used by their local school districts or regions.
“We understand that some families may have circumstances where they do not wish to or are unable to send their children to the brick-and-mortar setting. While we have confidence in our communities to enact mitigating measures in conjunction with local health and CDC guidance, we also will provide a virtual platform for higher-risk students to continue to learn,” said Judith Minor, DoDEA Americas Director of Student Excellence.
The agency had a plan in place for virtual teaching of high school students (grades 9-12). The current change, which provides virtual classrooms for elementary and middle school students, is temporary. There is no plan to permanently expand the virtual option.
The Federal Education Association, the union representing DoDEA teachers, is recommending that students and teachers choose the remote-learning option rather than physically attend conventional classrooms, until the pandemic ends.
“A physical reopening of our schools this summer presents unacceptable health and safety risks to students, employees and their families,” union officials Jane Loggins and Brian Chance stated in a July 21 letter to DoDEA Director Tom Brady. “Remotely opening the schools would provide flexibility … and allow each of DoDEA’s diverse locations to individually assess their ability to reopen when local conditions allow them to do so safely and with all possible precautions and safeguards in place.”