Originally published to WAAY 31 - August 9th, 2022
As students and teachers head back to the classroom, some are doing it from the comfort of their own homes.
For remote teachers, their "classroom" is all online. Melanie Barkley, the executive director for the Alabama Virtual Academy at Eufaula City Schools, a statewide online public school, said classroom preparations for remote teachers are similar to those heading back to a brick-and-mortar school.
Teachers have been logging on for training sessions for the past week, going over curricula and making sure everything is ready for the start of the school year. The only thing that's different is they are not in a school building.
"They're just getting ready and prepared the same way — lots of training for the platforms that we use. And, of course, we had our whole school public work, where we talk about our goals and things we want to accomplish as a staff," Barkley said. "... So it's very similar, like I said; it's just all done virtually because they're all over the state."
ALVA currently has 188 employees from all over the state who help educate 3,800 students enrolled in K-12 classes. Enrollment is slightly lower than last year, when they finished the school year with more than 4,000 students.
However, Barkley said, more students usually enroll after the start of the school year. She expects more people to enroll this year, especially now that remote learning is so well known.
"I think what happened coming out of the pandemic is that parents realized that this is definitely a different option for their families. And if it fits the needs of the family, you know that it's there, and it's quality education," said Barkley.
She said even though online options have been available for years, the pandemic opened the door for more people to realize how useful virtual learning can be. During the height of the pandemic, ALVA saw their largest enrollment numbers, with more than 4,400 students.
Barkley is looking forward to welcoming students back to the classroom on Aug. 10, wherever their "classroom" may be.