Arkansas board approval required for virtual learning platforms next school year

The Bryant School District announced it’s launching Buzz Academy, which will give parents another option for safe learning for their students.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Department of Education is rolling out digital learning plans for the next school year.

School districts must apply to have a virtual learning platform, and some schools are already launching plans.

The Bryant School District announced it’s launching Buzz Academy for sixth through twelfth graders.

It’ll give parents another option for safe learning for their students.

“We are all about opportunity for success for our kids, so we see this as offering more opportunities for our kiddos,” said Angie Dischinger, Bryant Schools assistant superintendent.

Buzz Academy is a full-time virtual learning option coming next school year.

A set of teachers will be dedicated to these specific students who apply and are accepted into the program.

They’ll have two learning options.

One mimics what the district already has in place for virtual learners. Those students will learn on a set schedule.

The academy will also offer a self-paced learning option.

“They choose when and what time they want to work on their courses. They might want to work on it in the evening or on the weekends, that’s fine. The instruction is through learning modules and videos and a Bryant teacher would be their facilitator,” said Dischinger.

“The opportunity to provide a digital program has to go through state board approval,” said Kiffany Pride, with the Arkansas Department of Education.

Pride said this process is new after learning from virtual learning during the current school year.

School districts that opt-in for virtual learning will receive training to ensure they have a strategic plan for a high-quality digital program. They’ll then submit their application.

“The review process and the state board will then grant approval or provide feedback. Hopefully, those that submit because of our training will get approval,” said Pride.

Bryant has worked for months to get its virtual academy ready for launch.

They have not been approved by the state yet, but feel confident about their plan.

“We feel confident that they will accept our application. We feel good about the learning options we have put together for our students,” said Dischinger.

If your child is a Bryant Hornet and they are interested in Buzz Academy, the application window is open through March 1. Spots are limited.

School districts that want to use a virtual learning platform must apply by May 1.