HCISD Virtual Academy: Parent component will prepare families for remote learning

A strong partnership between parents, students, and teachers is needed in order to provide a successful education. To achieve this goal, it is important to increase the knowledge and preparedness not only of students and teachers but of parents too. Harlingen CISD had this in mind when they created the HCISD Virtual Academy.

District staff worked tirelessly throughout the summer months to prepare the platform that will provide professional learning for multiple layers of our district, including students, staff, and parents. On August 10, Harlingen CISD will be launching the HCISD Virtual Academy. This platform will include parent, student, and staff portals that will provide live and pre-recorded sessions with information about academics, health, and wellness.

An essential part of this new website is the parent portal which will house a variety of short but comprehensive courses and videos that families can sign up for or view as they prepare for the virtual learning that will take place next school year. 

“We are putting together some sessions specifically for parents on how they can support the virtual learning of their children from home,” Coordinator of Federal Programs, Beulah Rangel said. “We are going to have a menu of sessions that parents can choose from. A majority of the presenters are district staff, but there might be a few others that will be from out of the district.”

The goal of adding a parent component to the virtual academy is to keep parents and families informed with the latest information, allow them an opportunity to ask questions about specific topics and let them have the chance to review important concepts before the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Some of these courses will focus on assisting parents in setting up a learning environment from home, others will cover how to log in and track student academic progress, and others will discuss plans and updates for the reopening of our school district.

“We want parents to know that they are partners in education with us, and so this is going to be a portal specifically to maximize that partnership, “Administrator for Organizational Development, Veronica Kortan said. “There are a lot of questions on health and safety in our schools, and we want our parents to be confident in the fact that their kids are going to be safe when they come back if they choose to do face-to-face learning.”

Different sessions will be available for parents every week from August 10 to August 28. Courses within this portal will offer a variety of academic and enrichment topics for the families of students at the primary and secondary levels. Classes include titles such as: Getting Ready to Write for Pre-K, College 101, Intro to Seesaw, and Social Media Gaming and Mental Health.

“This is all enrichment to empower parents, and to keep them in the loop,” Director of Parental Involvement/Dropout Prevention, Dr. Jose Luis Cavazos said. “Even though students are not in school right now, we are continuing to provide services. All of our departments will share information through these courses. We want parents to know about important topics like how we are still going to be taking attendance even though some students will not be learning from the classrooms.”

The topics presented in these courses will come from various departments such as Special Education, Athletics, Health Services, Federal Programs, Parental Involvement, Multi-Language, Child Nutrition, Early Childhood/Dyslexia, Guidance & Counseling, Advanced Academics, Career and Technical Education among others.

While some classes will be very informative, others will be a little more interactive and share ideas on exercise, nutrition, or other activities that can be done from home. These courses will also cover topics about living in and dealing with the current pandemic.

“This will be like an HCISD virtual conference, but it is going to be happening for several weeks given the plethora of opportunities our parents have to choose from,” Director of Multi-Language Department, Norma Garcia said. “We want to make sure our parents know they are not alone in this season. More than ever, we must work together to impact our student’s futures.”

The specific needs and interests of parents and their busy schedules were kept in mind when courses were created. Sessions will be offered in English and in Spanish. Each course was designed to be between 30 to 45 minutes long. The classes were spread out into morning and evening sessions with times ranging from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Courses will also be recorded and linked on the website for future reference or for those who might have missed a class of interest.

All three portals—the students, parents, and staff components will become available at the same time in the second week of August. Each portal will vary slightly to meet the specific needs and interests of each audience. Registration for courses will take place from August 3 to August 7. Click here to register.

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