Class confusion: Carlisle students return to school after AP classes not offered virtually

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Some Carlisle students who expected to begin the school year studying advanced placement courses online were back in school last week, despite concerns about exposure to the coronavirus.

The students went to classes in the district’s new building after some courses they expected to be taking virtually weren’t available through the district’s online curriculum vendor.

The confusion over virtual class selections came as the district, along with the rest of the world, struggled with how to react to COVID-19 concerns as the school year began.

In the weeks leading up to school starting, Carlisle concerns were also fueled by the death of a custodian with other health issues after testing positive, along with reports of exposures and quarantines related to positive tests by a soccer player and a handful of employees.

“The first day of school in the new Carlisle school is set for Tuesday, Sept. 8 (Classes eventually started Sept. 14). The staff is excited to welcome students back to school and the district will continue working on safety and hygiene protocols to protect the health of all,” Tom Isaacs, interim superintendent, said in an Aug. 26 letter on the COVID-19 issues.

To make things even more difficult, Carlisle was switching superintendents. Isaacs, former superintendent in Waynesville and the superintendent of the Warren County Educational Service Center, took the helm on Aug. 1 in Carlisle.

Isaacs replaced Larry Hook, who was hired away to Springboro. Isaacs filled in until David Vail joined Carlisle after retiring from the Miamisburg schools at the end of July.

Vail said about 10 students were in school as a result of confusion over on-line offerings leading to some finding the “material not quite what they were expecting.”

“That was allowed,” he said, adding about 200 of the district’s 1,500 students were still studying on-line.

In Warren County, Carlisle, Franklin, Kings, Lebanon, Little Miami and Waynesville contracted for on-line classes with Virtual Learning Academy (VLA), a service through the Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

Some of these districts complemented their on-line offerings through VLA with AP offerings from another vendor.

Lebanon contracted with VLA at $150 a student and $185 a student with SchoolsPLP .

Waynesville area students all went back to school for AP classes after discussions with Principal Sam Ison about steps being taken, Wayne Local Schools Superintendent Patrick Dubbs said.

As in Waynesvile, Carlisle did not set up an on-line alternative for AP offerings not available through VLA. Also like Waynesville, Carlisle pointed parents and students to the College Credit Plus Program at Sinclair College.

“Some parents may not be comfortable sending their child to school due to COVID 19. For this reason, Carlisle is allowing parents to choose a fully online education instead of coming to school for a traditional school experience,” Isaacs and Treasurer Daniel Bassler said in an Aug. 6 message that included information on the limited AP offerings.

Isaacs said when he got to work in Carlisle, he found parents anxious for facts about the start of school and the options on-line versus in class.

“There were many parent questions because re-opening plans had largely been published by other school districts and Carlisle parents did not know anything,” Isaacs said.

In addition, Isaacs said he needed to focus on final construction on the new building, “moving 1000′s of staff boxes into classrooms”, setting up a ribbon-cutting and “selecting the remote learning vendor.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

During interviews last week, Isaacs pointed to messages sent to parents advising them of VLA’s AP classes and encouraging them to enroll at Sinclair College for the free courses earning them credit at high school and college.

“All of these parents were given a choice,” Isaacs said. “You have to make a decision of what is best for your child.”

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