INDIANAPOLIS — A major shift is coming next school year for Indianapolis Public Schools.
IPS teachers will be focused next fall solely on teaching in-person as the district wants to shift remote learning to two charter schools that offer online academic programs.
District leaders expect most students will return to in-class learning in the fall, especially with more families embracing COVID-19 vaccines.
"We hope that families will choose to be back in the classroom in-person in the fall," IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said. "We also have to acknowledge there is still plenty of anxiety, concerns and individual circumstances that may not allow that to be a choice that a family is making."
Options for online learning will be available for IPS students through two charter schools. The Paramount School of Excellence will offer virtual learning for kids in kindergarten through eighth grade, while the Phalen Leadership Academy Virtual School will provide remote academics to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Officials are planning on a couple hundred students taking the remote learning option. Currently, around 5,000 IPS students are learning remotely. Nearly 700 families responded to a survey with 60% saying they would like a full-time virtual option next school year. The school board will vote Thursday on the remote learning options.
Johnson said both Paramount and Phelan have been vetted and monitoring will be key to the partnership. That's key in light of the state's previous history with questionable virtual school programs not connected with the Paramount and Phelan.
"In the context, Indiana with virtual schooling, we know there have been virtual schools who have not served kids well and, in my opinion, have not done right by kids," Johnson said. "We think it's important if we have having this option on the table that we feel good about endorsing and vetting these partners and the value they bring to our students and families."
To prepare for the fall, IPS will offer summer school to around 4,000 students it targeted in grades 3-12 who were possibly impacted by the pandemic. Summer classes will run from June 7-25.
"That's more expansive than we'd normally done," Johnson said. "We generally haven't had summer school or that broad of grade range, so we're doing it in response to, as you mentioned, the year it has been for schools across the country."