Brooklyn Schools Plan Hybrid Learning Option for Fall 2021

Starting next school year, Brooklyn City School District will offer students an option for hybrid learning and a flexible schedule through a new program called the Brooklyn Digital Learning Academy.

Ethan, 5, practices his letters while participating in his kindergarten class remotely in the kitchen of his Chicago home. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
(TNS) — There’s little doubt that education — after being forced to pivot at a moment’s notice to remote learning last year — will never be the same.

However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as educators learned firsthand some students actually thrive in a hybrid situation that combines working from home with a reduced element of traditional in-person instruction.

Take for instance the Brooklyn City School District, which recently announced starting next school year it was offering a special and innovative educational opportunity.

The Brooklyn Digital Learning Academy’s (BDLA) new hybrid learning model is open to all district students entering grades 10-12 for the 2021-22 school year. Also, ninth-grade students will be accepted with permission from the building principal.

“This is completely a new program we started discussing in the fall,” Brooklyn City Schools Superintendent/CEO Theodore Caleris said. “Part of it came about with the pandemic. We found kids that have been successful through this digital platform.

“This is more than pandemic related. With what’s going on in our society, we found out that there are kids who are successful in a remote environment, hybrid environment. So pandemic or no pandemic, we want to be able to service all of our kids and give them appropriate learning options so they can be successful.”

Taught by certified Brooklyn City Schools teachers and staff, the BDLA combines the district’s engaging curriculum and programming opportunities with a flexible-learning schedule.

“Through a hybrid learning model, the Brooklyn Digital Learning Academy will help to meet the individual needs of all our students, especially those who struggle in the traditional classroom setting,” said Brooklyn High School Principal Brian Hare in a press release.

“By providing a flexible, self-paced approach, our students will have the opportunity for educational achievement and, ultimately, a foundation for future success.”

Utilizing a third-party platform, students will attend one of two different sessions — AM session from 8 to 11 a.m. and PM session from noon to 3 p.m. — five days a week.

Applications for BDLA enrollment are being accepted now through April 15. The district is asking all interested families to make the commitment for a full semester.

The superintendent stressed there’s no added cost to starting the BDLA mostly due to the fact the district already offers credit-recovery options for students.

“A BDLA student working at school on a math assignment is going to have a math teacher come in at some point during that session so that there’s still that teacher connection,” Caleris said. “We want to be meaningful and make a difference for kids. Even if they’re taking a course on the computer, they still need help. That’s the reason for the twist with the hybrid model.

“Also, if they want to take an elective class at our high school, this gives them that flexibility. In addition, they can still be involved in our athletics and clubs.”

The other benefit to the BDLA is to hopefully attract students living in the Brooklyn City Schools area and currently attending community schools located outside the district. Caleris said there are roughly 25 such high school students doing just that.

“Part of the motivation for this program is to communicate to those families that we also have a digital-learning platform,” Caleris said. “We want to be an attractive school district for all of our kids. We’re hoping some of our kids come back.”

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