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Avon Grove Charter School Board approves virtual reopening with 'hybrid' hopes for future

Avon Grove Charter School Board approves virtual reopening with 'hybrid' hopes for future, Southern Chester County Weeklies
By Jen Samuel jsamuel@dailylocal.com @jenpoetess on Twitter Aug 11, 2020

AGCS Administration Avon Grove Charter School is launching the 2020-21 academic year virtually Sept. 8 with high hopes of reopening the classrooms to students twice a week in the fall under a novel hybrid-remote learning plan crafted by administration and approved by the board on Aug. 6.

LONDON GROVE — Avon Grove Charter School Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of a reopening plan that includes a hybrid schedule and remote instruction for student learners.

The board approved the new learning method of teaching and instruction during a special virtual meeting held Aug. 6 following a two-day postponement.  

The Pennsylvania-accredited educational charter school teaches 1,850 students in grades K-12.

Students hail from across Southern Chester County including the regional districts of Avon Grove, Oxford, Kennett and Coatesville.

The opening of the 2020-21 academic year, the board voted, begins Sept. 8 and shall feature virtual learning instruction only five days a week.

The plan then calls for the reopening of the classrooms to students twice a week as early as September or as late as November.

"Beginning in a remote model will allow us to educate the community on the isolation and re-entry measures essential in keeping our staff and students safe," said Head of School Kristen Bishop.

The board scheduled a special meeting to reconvene Sept. 28 with consideration on the table to reopen the classrooms to students for the academic 2020-21 year. 

“Through excellence and ingenuity, we will be able to think outside of the box and provide our staff, students, and community with the necessary tools for this unprecedented 21st-century education,” Bishop said in a letter issued to the Avon Grove Charter School community last week.

“We know there is a tremendous amount of anxiety and concern with the announcement of remote learning for our families,” Bishop said. “We hope our timeline brings optimism knowing that we intend to bring students back into a safe learning environment as soon as possible."

Under the authority of an ongoing emergency disaster decree, something normally reserved for governors during storms and sometimes to quell uncivil disobedience, by state mandate, Gov. Tom Wolf on March 13 ordered the immediate closure of schools in Pennsylvania.

“This is the best option for us because the teachers really need some time to understand the expectations of online learning and hybrid together,” Bishop told the Daily Local News on Aug. 11.

She said the plan is about “doing the right thing and learning the right protocol” for the well-being of every student.

Bishop is allocating the first three weeks of August to train teachers. There are 230 employees at Avon Grove Charter School.

When students return to school via virtual instruction after Labor Day, Bishop said teachers shall then prepare students for the upcoming return to the classroom later via the new hybrid-remote learning method.

All charter schools give computers to all students including laptops in those enrolled in grades first to twelfth. Kindergartners receive their own iPads for digital learning.

Parent participation, children understanding and teacher training are key tenets of the plan and the charter school’s vision to move “forward together.”

Avon Grove Charter School is hosting parent orientations this summer on the hybrid-remote learning model, Bishop said.

“This whole plan is really based on people,” Bishop said.

She said that what she loves about the Avon Grove Charter School community is the sense of "family" everyone shares.

Bishop said the charter schools’s motto is: “Excellence through ingenuity.

“I’m using that a lot lately,” she said.

She said the people at Avon Grove Charter School work "for the greater good of the community and the kids."

Bishop joined the Avon Grove Charter School family in 2008 and served as Kemblesville principal at the community’s lower school on Route 896 in Franklin Township.

The Board of Trustees named Bishop the Head of School five years ago. The Avon Grove Charter School headquarters is in London Grove Township at the old West Grove High School on State Road near the Borough of Avondale.

The Avon Grove Charter School opened in 2002 with less than 375 students. Enrollment has increased by 393.33 percent during the last 18 years.