WESTBROOK — The private Remote by Choice program has enrolled 403 Westbrook students who opted out of the public schools’ hybrid model this fall, but school officials are waiting for state guidance about the need for remote programs later in the year before officially offering to continue the program.

The district also wants to see evaluations to compare outcomes of  hybrid model students and those who have signed up for the private remote learning company, Edmentum.

“We do have the licenses for the full school year, and certainly if we have students and families that want to continue remote learning we can work with them to insure they can do that, but things are too difficult to plan in the future for,” O’Donnell said. “You never know what’ll happen tomorrow. We have the capacity.”

Edmentum’s exclusively remote learning platforms are monitored by about 10 staff teachers, and students enrolled seem to like the program, said Assistant Superintendent Kim O’Donnell.

Westbrook schools adopted a hybrid school model for the new school year that started last month because of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the hybrid model, students are attending in-person classes two days a week and receiving remote instruction three days a week.

Of the 403 Remote by Choice participants, the bulk of the population is from grades K-5, with middle school students making up the second highest group.

The $34,000 program cost was paid with grant money from the CARES Act, O’Donnell said.

In addition to expected state guidance on the need for a totally remote program, students’ learning status will factor into the decision to continue it, she said.

“Once we are back, we can really look at progress and see where students’ growth levels are, and our hope is we won’t see a deficit, but we will likely have things to mitigate and push forward with,” she said.

Under the Remote by Choice program, learning is fully “asynchronous,” O’Donnell said, meaning that students work on their own schedules. Classwork is made up of multimedia assignments that combine traditional school work elements with technology.

Under Westbrook schools’ hybrid model, mandatory attendance is required two days per week.

Jennie Dare Mitchell Sprague of Westbrook, the mother of a middle school student, said she is “much happier” with the Remote by Choice program when she compares it to Westbrook Middle School’s offering last spring.

“The assignments are easy to figure out what’s due and when,” Sprague said. “The program itself does a sound job explaining concepts, and shows sample answers to help students.”

Sprague chose Remote by Choice because she and her son have asthma and she works at a nursing home.

“Attending school put both of us, my patients and my livelihood all in jeopardy” because of the pandemic, she said.

Remote by Choice teachers monitor the students’ work, administer tests and evaluate progress. Teachers also still hold office hours to give help.

“I think this is maybe a bit more rigorous than some expected. Last spring with remote, we focused on maintaining knowledge, but with this, we are teaching,” Superintendent Peter Lancia said.

Comments are not available on this story.