Criteria for students to attend Bedford County Virtual School, being conducted by teachers from Cascade Middle, must be in good academic standing. There is an entire list of criteria on Bedford County School System’s website.
“As a principal, I feel that it’s my responsibility and that it’s fair to students to use a wider lens when I’m looking at students for BCVS, because last year was such a crazy year,” said principal Meredith Gilliland recently.
She said students were quarantined. So a lot of things were more complicated last school year.
“We can’t forget the time that was spent at home from March until August in 2020. So we know there was some learning time that was lost. So I feel like it’s what’s best for students . . . look at the big picture—what the student was like before the pandemic.”
Gilliland said her teachers will be expected to stay in constant contact with their students and parents. “When we get to the point that this is a problem, then the student will come into Cascade middle for a learning lab. They’ll continue to learn online, but will be in the school building. A lot of those requirements, the local school system had to have a clear plan of action.
That wasn’t the way last year.
If a virtual student doesn’t meet required learning expectations, they go the learning lab. They then return home. If problems still, return again at the learning lab. After the third time of failure, students will have to return to their zoned school.
What about Wifi connections?
The challenge isn’t the school, but in the homes.
So if parents have slow speed internet, the school system’s technology department will be assisting with those needs.
Students may receive a hot spot through cellular data.
Are we moving toward this type of virtual learning?
“I don’t think virtual learning is going away. I think that in our area, we may actually be a little late to the game. I think a lot of schools have had a virtual component for a while. I think that COVID-19 just sort of made us press on the gas a little bit and get there faster than we were ready.”
She said the school system needs to get on board or be left behind. “I really do think that it’s the future. After 16 years in a different county, system, I believe this is where we’re going. I’m putting my career on this. I do believe we have a lot of work ahead of us. It’s new to the community too. So getting the word out there that it’s a real school, that students are going to get a real, live, in-person education and we won’t leave children behind.”
She graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2005; she had one course in technology. She went back to school in 2009, and received her degree in instructional technology.”
A teacher who “saves everything” she recently ran across her course books from her master’s program was called, “Teaching with the Internet.”
She said perhaps she can toss that book, as it is now outdated.