Tyrone Area High School District announced last week that students will have a planned online virtual day on Thursday, November 19th.
On this day the students will remain at home and teachers will report to school at their regular time to teach their classes remotely.
“The purpose of this is to gather feedback and troubleshoot issues with virtual synchronous learning. As students return on Friday, we will gather feedback from the experience,” said Tyrone High School Principal Tom Yoder.
Many students have speculated that this planned day means that the district will go to a full-time virtual model soon.
However, Tyrone superintendent Leslie Estep stressed that no such decision has been made and the virtual day was planned to be proactive and prepare for the possibility of future school closures, including the possibility of using a model like this for short-term closures such as snow days.
“We want to be able to remain in-person for as long as we can. However, it may be inevitable that we have to spend some time in a virtual learning environment. If we do, it doesn’t mean that it will be that way for the rest of the year,” Estep told the Eagle Eye via email.
For the Thursday virtual day, the students will participate in Zoom sessions with their teachers for all class periods.
According to Yoder, teachers will take attendance online in all classes except for study halls. All classes, including electives, will be held on Zoom.
Teachers will provide live instruction at the classes regularly scheduled time. As the teachers meet with students the remainder of this week, they will work with students to prepare for the virtual day.
According to Yoder, active teaching via Zoom should be no more than 20-30 minutes per class. Students can work the remainder of the period on assignments.
One of the issues most discussed among students and teachers is how much live interaction is enough, and how much is too much if the school goes virtual.
According to Estep, if online instruction becomes necessary, the tentative plan is for teachers to provide live instruction four days a week, with the fifth day being an asynchronous day for students and teachers to connect with questions, extra help, and to catch up from absences.
“[However,], this could quickly change as everyone works through the practice sessions,” said Estep.