As districts plan for the 2021-2022 school year, we want to ensure they have the necessary information and resources regarding digital learning to prepare to meet the needs of all students. We recognize that much progress has been made in understanding the important role technology plays in learning, and we want to provide opportunities for districts to continue to offer digital options in addition to requirements for onsite instruction. Most importantly, we want to be sure that every day of student-teacher interaction is a quality learning experience.
To assist, attached is a presentation that will answer questions related to the 2021-2022 school year calendar and requirements for onsite instruction, as well as information for digital programming options to be considered.
To assist with planning and programming, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education has developed a new Digital Learning webpage. The updates and revisions support the next steps to provide students quality digital learning options. A Digital Learning Guidebook has been created to assist districts with developing options for continued digital learning during the 2021-2022 school year. Arkansas schools that choose to offer a remote digital program for the upcoming school year must seek State Board of Education approval by submitting an application. Submissions by May 1, 2021, will be reviewed during an expedited process using the online application that can be accessed from the Digital Learning webpage.
DESE staff will work with education service cooperatives and Team Digital to schedule and conduct technical assistance sessions for schools who want support in designing digital options for next year and who need assistance in completing the application. The training/technical assistance meetings will be updated on the webpage as sessions are scheduled.
Because digital programming options may require more flexibility to operate than traditional onsite instruction, the State Board of Education has approved a streamlined Act 1240 waiver process for the 2021-2022 school year for districts that submit successful plans. This will be different from last fall’s process, as each district that chooses to continue a digital learning instructional option for students will need to complete an application and submit it to DESE. To ensure that the district participates in the expedited process, applications should be submitted by May 1, 2021. The applications will be reviewed by DESE staff and submitted to the State Board with recommendations for approval if the plan meets requirements that include involvement of staff in the application development and approval of the local school board. The online application can be accessed on the Digital Learning webpage.
Open-enrollment charter schools that wish to operate a digital programming option will need to determine whether their charter will need to be updated and reviewed by the Charter Authorizing Panel.
Districts that wish to submit an AMI application for the 2021-2022 school year must use the AMI component of the online application found on the Digital Learning website. (See links above.)
More information will be shared by education service cooperatives regarding support sessions and assistance with the applications.