Full-time Online Learning in Carson City to be Offered Only through Pioneer Academy (Grades 1-12)
For the coming 2021-2022 school year, the Carson City School District (CCSD) is shifting allfull-time online education for elementary, middle and high school students to one consolidated site: Pioneer Academy (grades 1-12). Pioneer Academy will replace all individual school site remote learning models the district created at the start of the 2020-2021 school year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pioneer Academy is a consortium of three schools. Pioneer Online Elementary School will serve grades one through five, Pioneer Online Middle School will serve grades six through eight and Pioneer High School, which is already a fully accredited high school serving grades nine through twelve in both traditional in-seat and online options, will now serve all full-time online high school students in the Carson City School District.
Because these shifts in practice have in essence created an entirely new school, the district is requiring all families that wish to continue with (or enroll in) full-time online learning to complete an application for acceptance into Pioneer Academy. Pioneer Academy has a limited number of spaces available for all three levels (elementary, middle, and high). As a result of this limited space, CCSD is asking all interested families to complete and submit applications on or before Friday, April 23, 2021 in order to be considered. Applications received after April 23 will go onto a first-come, first-served waiting list.
“In the last 11 years of online education in CCSD, piloted at Pioneer High School, the school increased its graduation rates and more students from both high schools were able to graduate on time,” said Jason Zona, principal of Pioneer High School and Pioneer Academy. “Because of this success, Pioneer Academy was created and expanded to include grades 1-12. We are honored and excited to meet the challenge, and our team at Pioneer Academy will work to make the highest level of education possible for those who need or choose online options in Carson City.”
The full-time online learning model offered through Pioneer Academy is a 5-days per week, 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. commitment. School days and hours will mirror that of those students who are learning full-time, 5-days per week, in-seat, in-person. All testing and assessments for full-time online learners will be provided in-person at a designated school site.
Once enrolled, Pioneer Academy will be the student’s assigned school for the year. In order for students enrolled in the full-time online learning model to return to the district’s in-seat, in-person learning model, families will need to apply for a variance to their assigned/zoned brick and mortar school.
“At the start of this past school year, we had more than 25% of our student population learning full-time online/remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tasha Fuson, associate superintendent of Educational Services for the Carson City School District. “There were adjustments made to best meet the needs of those full-time online learners at each of our individual school sites. Moving forward for next year, we are consolidating and staff members at Pioneer Academy (grades 1-12) are preparing to serve as the District’s sole source of online learning in the 2021-22 school year.”
Due to the unique challenges of online learning, CCSD has determined students and families will be best served under one consolidated location with teachers and staff who can focus efforts on the needs of full-time online families, Fuson continued. Many current full-time online families have children at multiple grade levels. In many cases, this has placed full-time online siblings at different schools. Since Pioneer Academy will now serve all full-time online learners, parents will have a single point of contact regardless of their children’s current grade levels. In addition, a consolidated site will also provide a unified teaching staff for online learning, as well as a single administrative staff and office staff.
CCSD began the 2020-2021 school year in a hybrid learning model where students would spend two days per week in-person, in-seat with half for their classmates and their teacher. The other three days of school that week were done online/remotely. The transition of returning more students to school campuses from their hybrid model Tuesdays through Fridays began in October with pre-kindergarteners to second graders, in January with third to sixth graders and March 23 with seventh and eighth graders. Mondays continue to serve as remote learning days for all students.
Each time the district reintroduced more students on a more tradition educational model, it had several full-time online/remote students also return to the more traditional hybrid learning model. Currently, nearly 14% of CCSD’s student population is engaging in full-time online learning. The district anticipates that number to decrease further when they begin school again in the fall.
“As educators, we feel the best education is offered where a student is present with classmates and a teacher directly in front of them,” Fuson said. “But we also understand there will continue to be a demand for some form of online alternative.”