Guthrie Public Schools is expanding how and where students receive their education with the Bluejay Academy. This week the school district announced they will offer full-time online classes for junior high and high school students (7 -12) beginning next school year.
Superintendent Dr. Mike Simpson made the announcement at the Board of Education meeting on Monday.
In a similar move, Tulsa Union will also begin offering online classes in the fall.
The Guthrie school district makes the move as many students throughout the state have made their way from traditional brick and mortar schools to online virtual schools such as Epic Charter Schools.
“We have enough staff and feel that we are comfortable about getting out in public and taking on a full-time virtual academy for our students,” Assistant Superintendent Doug Ogle said.
Students who apply and are accepted into the Bluejay Academy will be able to take up to 100 percent of their courses online. Students will also have the option to take one elective course like athletics, band, vocal or other fine arts and be able to compete in the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA).
“The law changed (from the state legislature) from the OSSAA that now states a student can be a full-time virtual student but have one class in a brick and mortar and still be eligible to participate at that district that they’re in,” Ogle said.
He added, “That’s a game changer for some of our kids. They can still be a Bluejay athlete and still take a virtual class.”
The academy will be free of charge to students accepted into the program.
The Bluejay Academy is designed for students who are highly motivated and have strong parental support of academics at home, according to school officials. They say the academy is not for students who struggle academically but believe it may be a good option for students who struggle with social or emotional issues.
“This will be self-paced so students that are academically strong will be able to move at a faster pace. It is really up to each individual and how much parental involvement they have at home on how successful they can be and how fast they can progress,” Ogle added.
School leaders say the program targets students who live in the district and are looking for an alternative educational setting through online classes.
The Bluejay Academy will require students to take four rigorous core courses and three elective classes per semester, including some AP (advanced placement) classes. Students will be able to proceed at their own pace with an option to work ahead and progress at a faster rate if they desire.
Ogle said some of the students that left the school district and came back from other virtual schools were not self-paced or on track.
“What we have built in the Bluejay Academy is in the afternoons we will have tutoring if they get stuck at home,” Ogle said.
Students will be required to meet with a certified, school instructor weekly to check and monitor progress. Tutoring will be available Monday through Friday (12:30 pm to 3:30 pm.).