Union Public Schools is greatly expanding its virtual educational offerings for students in grades 6-12 in a pilot program that will debut for the 2019-20 school year. Where previous programs have limited the number of online classes students can take, the expanded program – called Union Virtual – will enable students selected for the program to take as many as 100 percent of their courses online. They will also have the option to take one elective course – like Fine Arts or athletics – in a face-to-face setting.
Union Virtual is free of charge to students accepted into the program. Participating students will be issued a school-owned laptop for use while enrolled. In its first year, the program will be limited to 100 students.
Union Virtual is based in the Union Innovation Lab located at 6235 S. Mingo. All students need home internet access 6-8 hours per day in order to receive instruction and complete assignments. Union can provide a portable MiFi device that will allow the student to work from home.
The program targets students who live in the district, but may not be enrolled at Union today, according to Gart Morris, Executive Director of Instructional Technology. “Living within our boundary are students who are currently homeschooled or ones who haven’t been served well by traditional brick and mortar schools. At the same time, these students may crave the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities like band, orchestra, cheer or athletics. By enrolling in Union Virtual, they are also a member of their grade-level appropriate school, with the ability to participate in the full array of clubs, programs and activities offered at their school site. No other virtual program can compete with the Union experience.”
All students accepted into Union Virtual are required to take six rigorous hours of instruction per day. Students will be able to proceed at their own pace with an option to work ahead and progress at a faster rate if they desire. Most instruction will occur online, but every student is assigned a certified teacher who will monitor their progress, provide assistance as needed, and will be the point of contact between the student, parent and their grade-level school site.
This virtual offering is designed for students who are highly motivated and have strong parental support of academics at home. It is not for students who struggle academically; however, it may be a good option for students who struggle with social/emotional issues. Union encourages students to talk with their teachers and counselors to determine if Union Virtual is the best option for them.
To be eligible for Union Virtual, students in grades 6-12 this fall must live in the district, be enrolled full-time with Union Public Schools, and may not be enrolled in any other program or school (private, online or homeschool). Once their application has been accepted, they must be enrolled with Union no later than August 9, 2019. The deadline for application is August 1, 2019.
Applicants will be evaluated based on academic performance, attendance, motivation, and home academic support. No more than 100 students will be admitted to the Union Virtual pilot program.