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Gainesville City Schools sets deadline for choosing virtual or face-to-face classes
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Gainesville City School System Superintendent Jeremy Williams and members of the Gainesville board of education meet via Zoom for a virtual work session on Monday, Oct. 5. - photo by Nathan Berg

All Gainesville City School System students who intend to switch either from Gainesville Virtual Academy to face-to-face learning or vice versa must confirm those intentions by Oct. 31 through an online survey put up on the Gainesville schools website, according to Jill Hobson, chief technology officer for the Gainesville City School System. Students who are already enrolled in the virtual academy and wish to continue learning virtually next semester are also asked to complete the survey to communicate those intentions to the school system. 

During a board of education work session Monday evening, Hobson said the Oct. 31 date was chosen because it would give the school system time to work through scheduling logistics, as well as thoroughly communicate to parents that enrolling in the academy is a full semester commitment.

“This will give us time to process all those requests, get schedules ready for every student and make sure that we’ve communicated with every family for whom we have room, give them a chance to complete a contract so that they’re clearly understanding that they’re committing for the entire January through June timeline, second semester, and that they understand the expectations of being a part of GVA,” she said.

Hobson and Gainesville Superintendent Jeremy Williams both said there would be increased emphasis on letting parents know that students would not be able to move between the virtual academy and face-to-face learning once the semester begins. 

“If you try to shift into GVA, the schedule changes, where the classes are maybe slightly different,” Williams said. “If you try to shift back to face-to-face, that impacts class size. So we cannot be having those kinds of interruptions throughout the course of a semester.”

Hobson added that filling out the survey with a request to switch from face-to-face learning to GVA would not necessarily mean a student would be enrolled in GVA. She said that because GVA classes are currently at or near capacity, the online school could not accommodate many more new students, and available spots would be dependent on students currently enrolled in GVA switching to face-to-face instruction for the spring semester. However, every parent who fills out the survey will be contacted by the school system – whether they are accepted into GVA or not – so students and parents can be clear ahead of time whether they will be learning virtually or in a face-to-face environment come spring. 

Hobson said that open spots in GVA would be assigned on a first come, first served basis based on when surveys are filled out. 

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