New York City will launch its first-ever permanent virtual school for 200 ninth-grade students starting this fall, Education Department officials said Thursday,
The program, called A School Without Walls, will offer a full-time virtual classes to 100 freshmen, and a hybrid mix of virtual and in-person school for another 100, the DOE said.
“The pandemic underscored the importance of reimagining the student experience for our children, giving them the opportunity to freely pursue their interests and passions as part of their high school journey,” Schools Chancellor David Banks said. “It is up to us as educators to meet students where they are with opportunities that empower them in their learning.”
A group of city high school students participated in a yearlong internship to help design the new school’s structure and curriculum, the DOE said.
Students at the new online program will get the “freedom to design their own path to earning a high school diploma,” Education Department officials said.
The virtual academy will be part of a network of more than 70 “Outward Bound” public schools that focus on community-building and experiential learning.
Teachers and staff for the fully virtual and hybrid portions of the program will work out of a DOE building in downtown Brooklyn, and students in the hybrid program will attend class there.
High school applications for other DOE schools are already in, but any rising ninth-graders interested in the new virtual program can apply through their MySchools account through July 6.
Students in the fully virtual portion will get live online teaching every day, and access to counselors and mental health support, DOE officials said.
There are still some wrinkles to iron out: The state Education Department hasn’t yet officially recognized the new online academy as a school that can grant a high school diploma, so students in the new program will be simultaneously enrolled in a traditional high school for the time being.
The Education Department said they’re “working in close collaboration with the New York State Education Department to finalize the necessary details to make these programs full schools that can graduate students.”