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Polk County parents frustrated with lack of information, no schoolwork for Polk Virtual School

POLK COUNTY, Fla.—Students in Polk County have been back in school for weeks now, but that’s not the case for some virtual learners. Several parents of Polk Virtual School students worry their kids are getting left behind.

“It’s now coming up on the fourth week of school here, and we have nothing,” said Leslie Nieves.

Nieves enrolled her two sons in Polk Virtual school after liking the idea of more flexibility. However weeks into the new semester, Nieves says her kids still haven’t started school.

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“We have nothing. They keep telling us that we will receive materials in the mail. I haven’t gotten anything,” said Nieves. “I haven’t received any email as far as their logins or anything goes. We’ve received absolutely nothing, and I’m not the only one.”

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Taylor Jones’ son was initially signed up for Polk Virtual School, too. But she says after weeks with no login or information, she finally decided to unenroll her son from virtual school and into brick-and-mortar learning.

“He’s already three weeks behind now,” said Jones. “So if I wait two more weeks, now we’re already halfway through the first nine weeks, and he hasn’t even started any of his schooling.”

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ABC Action News went to Polk County Public Schools with parents’ questions. The district told us Polk Virtual School has seen a major spike in enrollment. In a statement, they apologized to families for any trouble and frustration and said they will have extra phone support available starting tomorrow.

The district said, “we now will have even more support available as we make a final push to take care of all remaining PVS families who are waiting for assistance.”

“They’re going to be a whole month behind these children now. So how do they make that up?” said Nieves.

The district also said for students who have yet to be enrolled for 2020-21, they will not be penalized for the late start. The district says teachers and staff are committed to helping students catch up.

Here is the full statement to Polk Virtual School families:

“We apologize for the recent lack of communication and want to provide an update for those of you who are still awaiting enrollment information, or other assistance.

To begin, we are deeply sorry for any trouble and frustration you’ve experienced these past few weeks. We’ve encountered many unique challenges this school year — along with a major spike in enrollment — and as we’ve worked through a variety of technical and communication issues it has been difficult for us to respond to you in a timely basis with the volume of calls and messages we’ve received.

We previously brought in extra help to get students enrolled and learning for 2020-21, and we now will have even more support available as we make a final push to take care of all remaining PVS families who are waiting for assistance.

Beginning tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 12, we will have additional telephone support available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 863-665-4538. The call center will be closed on Sunday but will resume operating on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Our intent is to have extra staff available to answer questions and provide any information you need as we finalize enrollment for 2020-21.

You can also receive assistance by filling out this form: http://www.123formbuilder.com/form-5634430/form [nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com].

In addition, we will have staff monitoring messages on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PolkVirtual [nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com].

If your child has yet to be enrolled for 2020-21, please know that they will not be penalized for the late start. Our staff and teachers are committed to helping students get caught up.

Again, we apologize for the problems and delays many of our families have experienced this school year. Please know that we are continuing to work through all remaining issues as quickly as possible.”

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