Graphic Illustration by Lauren Liu and Sharlene Chen
FUHSD families received an email on July 20 introducing an option for students with COVID-19 related health concerns to participate in an independent study program for the 2021-22 school year; students do not need to provide any proof or explanation for their decision.
Independent study is different from the remote learning students experienced during the 2020-21 school year. The program is outlined by Assembly Bill 130, passed on July 8 and will be put into effect this year.
Students enrolled in the program complete coursework asynchronously at their own pace and are only required to meet with their instructors once a week. The amount of work completed is monitored to ensure students are making adequate academic progress. In addition, all district-provided resources accessible to in-person students, including guidance counselors and school-based therapists, are available to independent students.
“It may not be perfect, as independent study itself is never a perfect substitute for in-person, interactive instruction,” FUHSD Superintendent Polly Bove stated in an email.
The independent study curriculum is not the same as the Lynbrook curriculum, and students do not receive instruction from Lynbrook teachers. Instead, FUHSD has partnered with Edgenuity, a company specializing in providing remote learning education. The district settled on Edgenuity as the primary learning platform for the program following a pilot trial conducted during the 2020-21 school year. The Arizona-based company offers digital K-12 instruction through their website and allows school districts to design their own curriculum. Edgenuity offers more than 400 self-paced courses that meet state and national standards, in addition to Next Generation Science Standards.
“I think that Edgenuity suits my needs perfectly because I can work whenever I want and I don’t have any time constraints,” said sophomore Sanah Syed, who is participating in the independent study program. “I feel that the academics are on par with my experience in CUSD and FUHSD schools too.”
Work completed during independent study counts toward a general FUHSD diploma rather than a diploma from the student’s home high school. Because the program is designed for students with health concerns, participants are not allowed on campus to participate in clubs, sports or other campus activities.
“We hope that this will transition eventually to a situation where everybody can feel like they can return to campus,” Bove said.
Although the independent study program is not perfect, it offers a graduation and education opportunity for students who temporarily cannot return to school. While the success of this program remains to be seen, it will provide FUHSD students a necessary alternative to on-campus learning during a period of increased uncertainty.