Bay District Schools’ fourth learning option, BayLink, explained

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Thursday, Bay District Schools announced a proposal for a fourth schooling option for the upcoming school year in addition to brick and mortar, Bay Virtual School, and homeschooling — called BayLink.

BayLink is the district’s second virtual schooling option and involves teachers uploading lessons and schoolwork to an online portal called ‘Canvas’ for students to access from home.

It will officially be recommended at the school board meeting on Tuesday for approval. If it is approved, BDS officials said parents will have to decide via parent portal whether they will opt for BayLink or brick and mortar, or the other two options.

Many of the guidelines may be altered based on school and class size, but the school district did provide some preliminary guidelines for how the program is predicted to operate.

How does it interact with in-class teaching?

Guidelines sent out to teachers over the weekend regarding BayLink said that teachers will not be required to be on camera all day. Instead, they will upload a 10- to 15-minute recorded or live lesson to ‘Canvas’ for students to reference. Then, they may turn off the camera while they work individually with students in class or online.

There is room for teacher experimentation in several aspects of BayLink, BDS officials say. This includes the live or recorded lessons, which BDS officials said are meant to be focused on the tools used to teach the lesson and not the entire in-person class. For example, the teacher while lecturing or on a white or Smartboard.

This flexibility also includes how teachers interact with BayLink students while teaching a lesson, they added. For example, communication with BayLink students may be done via live chat, email or weekly video conferences. It will depend on the teacher and how they will run that classroom.

The guidelines said that BayLink would not require teachers to prepare two lesson plans nor will it affect class sizes.

Are brick and mortar and BayLink interchangeable?

Students may not switch between brick and mortar and BayLink on a whim, BDS officials said.

If a brick and mortar student needs to self-isolate, they will temporarily become a BayLink student and will return to brick and mortar when cleared, BDS officials said.

If a BayLink student decides that the BayLink option no longer works for them, they can switch to brick and mortar schooling at that point in time, BDS officials said.

Additionally, if a teacher needs to self-isolated but can work, BayLink enables teachers to teach from home without using time off, BDS officials said. An adult will be present in the classroom to supervise the in-person students.

Why is BayLink being offered?

BDS officials said that the district’s hope is that this fourth option will reduce in-person class size to make social distancing easier while still allowing virtual students and parents to have a relationship with their teacher and their individual school.

BDS officials said that parents who opt for BayLink will be assuming a lot of responsibility for their child’s learning and engagement with the lessons.

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