Lee Schools: More than 5,600 virtual students joining in-person studies Monday, more to come

The district has been monitoring students with poor performance since reopening the schools…

Lee Schools: More than 5,600 virtual students joining in-person studies Monday, more to come

Pamela McCabe
 
| Fort Myers News-Press

Lee Schools: More than 5,600 virtual students joining in-person studies Monday, more to come 1

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Meet Lee County’s Teacher of the Year: Alyssa Smith

The Lee County school district named Alyssa Smith of Tortuga Preserve Elementary School as Teacher of the Year.

Images, footage provided by Lee County school district

More than 5,600 virtual students are headed back to brick-and-mortar classrooms Monday in Lee County, marking the second time the school district has pushed for virtual learners to come back to campus.

In December, the district reported that nearly 70% of its Lee Home Connect students, or roughly 16,000 children and teens, would receive phone calls from their schools encouraging them to make the move.

Lee Home Connect is a model of virtual instruction that is connected to a students’ home school and runs in a live format during the school’s operating hours. 

The push stems from an executive order issued by the Florida Department of Education that calls for students who are falling behind in their remote and virtual studies to come back to in-person learning unless their families say no.

The district has been monitoring students with poor performance since reopening the schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. It reported that 10,115 students made the switch from virtual to brick-and-mortar at the start of the second quarter in November.

More: Lee schools to see 10,115 more students in face-to-face classrooms starting Nov. 2

As part of the most recent push to return students to the traditional school environment, the district called the homes of any student who wasn’t making “adequate progress” in their classes. Included in the mix are those students with at least one D or F grade in either the first or second grading periods.

According to Rob Spicker, a spokesperson for the district, 5,653 students are scheduled to go back to in-person learning Monday. Some students, depending on their school, may have been invited back earlier if room was available on campus.

Another wave of new in-person students is expected at the start of the second semester on Feb. 1, when 946 students from Lee Virtual School are set to switch into on-campus learning, Spicker said.

While Lee Home Connect offers a nine-week commitment, students in Lee Virtual were asked to commit to a full semester of online studies. The latter is a fully online K-12 public school in its 11th year.

More: 16,000 struggling Lee students to be encouraged to return to in-person learning

Those headed back to brick-and-mortar instruction could end up with a new schedule or teacher. Students and employees are also required to wear face masks and keep their distance from one another as best as possible.

Spicker said the schools are ready for the new students.

“We continue to see minimal secondary transition in schools,” he said, referring to the concern of the COVID-19 virus spreading from person to person on campus. “We believe the protocols are working and students continue to be as safe as possible when on campus.”

If a student hasn’t made the commitment to switch and would like to come back to in-person learning, families are encouraged to contact their schools.

More: Lee County school district launches preschool expansion with opening of James Stephens Pre-K Center

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