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Nine companies submit bids for statewide virtual school

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

Nine companies submitted proposals to provide an at-home virtual learning option for K-12 students statewide. 

The Alabama State Department of Education opened the bids Tuesday morning. Proposal details weren’t made public and an ALSDE spokesman said a contract would be available after it’s finalized. 

The department did give Alabama Daily News the names of the companies submitting proposals. They are:

  • Fuel Education/K-12;
  • Edgenuity;
  • Defined Learning;
  • Acellus Academy;
  • Edmentum;
  • eDynamic;
  • Schools PLP;
  • Grade Results;
  • Discovery Education.

The proposal evaluation process is ongoing now, and results will be publicly available upon completion of the process and/or any resulting contract, spokesman Michael Sibley said.

Last month, Alabama Daily News reported that ALSDE wants a statewide virtual learning option for K-12 students whose parents may not want them to return to traditional classrooms this fall. The online platform will also be an option should school systems have to close their physical doors again.

“If we have some periodic, episodic closures in the fall or spring of next year, we’ll be better prepared,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey said then.

The department issued a request for proposals for vendors “to provide and manage a comprehensive statewide K-12 virtual school for the students of the State of Alabama…” 

Another option in the RFP allows for the purchase of K-12 course content that meets all the standards of the state’s courses of study and can be accessed by students remotely.

The department wants the virtual option available to families in August. 

The coronavirus caused public school campuses statewide to close in mid-March and move to remote learning options. Individual systems were responsible for delivering instruction to students during that time. 

Mackey said the statewide virtual school would standardize learning across the state, but could also be customized by systems.

Mackey said the virtual system is a school choice measure for families. 

“Some of the details are going to have to be worked out as to the local school districts,” Mackey said. “We don’t want to compete on their territory. So they’re going to have to think about how they want to set it up so students will still be enrolled in a local school system. This will just be a virtual option. But we hear from parents every day whose students are immune deficient or immunocompromised, or in some cases, you know, the parent may be immunocompromised and they’re worried about seeing their children in school and bringing it back.”

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