The Antioch Unified School District announced Thursday the grand opening of the Thomas Gaines Virtual Academy. The Thomas Gaines Virtual Academy is an alternative school of choice open to all K-8 students who thrive in a virtual learning environment, and/or need a flexible learning option.
Registration is now open: Register here.
The Thomas Gaines Virtual Academy promotes student voice and choice, student goal setting and monitoring, critical thinking, community, and collaboration.
Thomas Gaines’ Virtual Instructional Program
- Core content instruction (English Language Arts/English Language Development, Math, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education)
- Standards mastery based learning
- Project Based Learning (PBL)
- Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
- Digital Citizenship
Thomas Gaines’ Virtual Instructional Components
- Live daily instruction
- Learning and social emotional supports
- Collaboration with peers
- Individual and group assignments
- Voluntary in-person activities
How to Enroll Students in the Thomas Gaines Virtual Academy
- Parents will complete the Thomas Gaines Virtual Academy registration form to enroll their child. The form is located on our website located at www.antiochschools.net
- Completed forms can be dropped off at the Centralized Enrollment Office located at 510 G Street in Antioch; by fax at (925)779-7514, or via email at [email protected].
More background info from the two board meetings and the presentation explaining the school.
After receiving the report, Board President Ellie Householder liked the proposed model.
“As a Prospects graduate, like, I can get emotional thinking about how great this option this is for K-8 students and just reflecting how great it would be for me to have that option when I was in middle school, but I am so thankful to have the experience at Prospects,” stated Householder. “I am living proof these models do work.”
She did express concerns over the announcement by Bay Area County Superintendents regarding the support for reopening school campus in the fall. She said she believe there were some “misnomers” about reopening.
“I think what people were concerned that was that they saw us as a District as not wanting to reopen or depending on their position, two sides of the coin, I think there is some misconception of where the decision actually lies,” stated Householder. “So this presentation is part of that decision process. What are our requirements and where does the decision actually lie because I think people think we are keeping our schools closed unreasonably.”
Superintendent Anello stated the decision lies in the options in the education code and comes down to local governing body.
“The board will be the deciding body on whether to approve the alternate school,” stated Anello. “Program itself, lies with staff… I think through this pandemic, people have thought what they are going to think and people had very strong views about things.”
Ibarra added the District is getting calls on both sides of reopen versus distance learning which they hope to create a long-term option with the Thomas Gaines School.
Vice President Clyde Lewis Jr called the presentation “phenomenal” and confirmed families can self select, but was curious on the cap and how will that be determined. Ibarra said they had to find space for those who request it. They can voluntarily enter and leave.
Ibarra also highlighted that if a student is not excelling, it could be recommended they be moved into an in person environment—which is supported by ed code.
Lewis also had concerns of possibly parents peaking over a students shoulder and helping them with answers.
Ibarra said they admit they saw some inflated scores early on with IReady so they drove it home to tell parents not to assist and it doesn’t help to have parents inflate scores while they have worked to proctor measures to limit help. She further highlighted through the standards mastery approach, they would be giving students multiple opportunities and its not a paper driven test—but creative ways to demonstrate mastery.
Trustee Antonio Hernandez asked if there were pathways and resources for English learners. Ibarra said there were along with those with special needs—its open to all students.
Approved in a 5- vote.
The District is seeking approval to form and establish the Thomas Gaines Virtual Learning Academy as an Alternative School of Choice (ASOC) to open in the fall of 2021. The Thomas Gains Virtual Learning Academy will provide a virtual learning option for students and families who would benefit from such an instructional model. The Thomas Gaines Virtual Learning Academy will serve students in grades K-8. Enrollment is entirely voluntary. The school will be virtual in instructional delivery but will include opportunities for in-person experiences as well. The Thomas Gaines Virtual Learning Academy will be housed in a currently existing school location. Enrollment will open on June 14, 2021, and staffing will be assigned based on enrollment numbers. All families who wish to enroll their student(s) in the Thomas Gains Virtual Learning Academy will be able to do so.
Alternative schools of choice (ASOC) were established under California Education Code (EC) sections 58500—58512. Each ASOC must meet all the requirements of the law, including:
- All students and teachers are selected entirely from volunteers (EC Section 58503).
- The school is maintained and funded by the school district at the same level of support as other educational programs for the same age level operated by the district (EC Section 58507).
- The district annually evaluates the school and forwards the evaluations to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (EC Section 58510).
To watch the meeting: click here.