I’m blogging today to let our parent community know that APS is expanding the Atlanta Virtual Academy (AVA) in response to increased interest in this enrollment option. AVA is our fully accredited online learning program that is available to elementary, middle and high school students of Atlanta Public Schools.
We are opening a window beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, September 15 for interested families to apply for an expanded seat, and hosting a series of informational webinars in both English and Spanish to help families learn more and get their questions answered.
As you know, we were among the first districts in the region to decide to begin the 2020 school year in a virtual format. In that climate at that time, without an available COVID-19 vaccine, it was the right choice to protect our community. But because our core business is teaching and learning, getting back to and maintaining safe, quality, in-person instruction for all students is our ultimate goal.
I am proud of our team and the robust mitigation strategies we have been able to implement to keep students and staff safe in a face-to-face environment since the beginning of the school year on August 5. We have made tremendous strides in minimizing the impact of COVID-19 in our schools.
We are continuously reviewing and enhancing those strategies, and one example is our recent decision to mandate COVID surveillance testing for all staff. Twice weekly testing is giving our teachers peace of mind to get back to what they do best, educating 50,000 scholars! It also allows us to effectively contact trace and pivot quickly in response to any positive cases.
The many concerns and considerations of this pandemic have shifted and changed, and will continue to do so. The Delta variant has caused a surge of cases across the country, and in turn we have seen an increased interest in our virtual programs.
I want to stress that we are working deliberately to develop a teacher pool for this expansion. While we would love to be able to launch the expansion immediately, we must allow for the preparation of a workforce based on the actual demand for AVA slots.
Parents, please put this opportunity on your radar if this is of interest to you. Also, please note that our timeline is co-dependent on supply and demand relative to the number of students and families who are interested. Additional seats beginning in January 2022 is our realistic timeline if interest is high.
Another thing to note is that AVA requires a semester-long commitment and is different and separate from a student’s class needing to go virtual for a short period of time due to positive COVID cases among that class.
Visit the AVA website for detailed information about the types of learning options available through AVA, how we are conducting the application window and potential lotteries for this expansion, how to apply, and where to get your questions answered.