What Are Virtual Days?

Asynchronous+virtual+days+allow+all+students+to+work+completely+from+home.

Jake Bollinger

Asynchronous virtual days allow all students to work completely from home.

Kaia Claypoole, Staff Writer

Due to COVID-19, many school districts in Blair County have either gone full virtual or hybrid for delivering instruction.

Bellwood-Antis High School made the decision to go hybrid on January 11, 2021. Next week, students will come back to school for in-person learning on a full-time basis.

However, during the period of hybrid learning, B-A instituted several asynchronous virtual days, which will conclude tomorrow with the final asynchronous day before returning to full-time learning. Many students have wondered, “What are virtual days?” The simple answer is, they are exactly what they sound like. They are days when all members of the student body learn online.

High School Principal Rick Schreier recently answered a few questions about the virtual days and the plan for coming back face to face. 

BLUEPRINT: What is the goal of virtual days?

Mr. Schreier: The goal of an asynchronous day is to move learning forward with all students in all classes. The asynchronous aspect allows for some freedom for students to do the school work on their own schedule, rather than following period 1-8 schedule. The reason these days are not synchronous like other virtual days is so HS teachers receive the time needed to keep up with the demands of teaching 2 audiences (in-person and at-home). In the past, teachers used the ½ day Fridays for planning, creating lessons and videos, grading, and communication. Using a ½ day Friday becomes very problematic to schedule. 

BLUEPRINT: How was the decision to do asynchronous work one day work?

Mr. Schreier: The asynchronous virtual day was planned as part of the Hybrid Schedule for Blue and Gold Groups. As we alternated days, Monday/Wednesday for Blue and Tuesday/Thursday for Gold. There were two options for Friday — alternate Fridays as Blue/Gold or make Fridays virtual for all students. The GACTC was already following this model: A-B-A-B- All virtual, so the concept was not new to some of our students. We opted for the all virtual Friday, due to the confusion that would accompany the ½ day Fridays used in the past. The flip-flopping of periods 1-4 and 5-8 along with flip flopping Blue and Gold created an imbalance in “in-person” time. 

BLUEPRINT: What would a typical virtual day be like for students?

Mr. Schreier: Teachers are expected to post work for all of their class periods by 8 am or earlier on Friday. After the work is posted, they are free to use the day as a work day for tasks that need to be completed. Many teachers use this time to communicate with some of their struggling students, while others use it for planning and preparing for next week’s lesson. When appropriate, teaching departments meet to discuss plans for their curriculum and resources used to teach the content. 

BLUEPRINT: How long will the model using virtual days last? 

Mr. Schreier: Asynchronous virtual days are only to be used during FIDs or during the hybrid schedule. I anticipate moving to full time in-person instruction next Monday, February 8th. When we return to full time in-person instruction, Friday’s will be ½ days at least through the end of February. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Although asynchronous virtual days will end tomorrow, half-day instruction on Fridays, which was implemented at the end of last year before B-A’s second school closure, will continue through February.