RANDOLPH COUNTY — A new school for a new era is coming to Randolph County this fall.

“The Virtual Academy at Randolph” is scheduled to open in August 2021. This new school will become the 32nd school in the Randolph County School System.

RCSS Superintendent Stephen Gainey said this week that the system must adapt to the changing needs of the modern student. COVID-19 began a transition for some students to virtual learning that he said will continue for some beyond the pandemic.

“This new school is another step in the right direction for the Randolph County School System as we continue to work to meet the needs of all students as we move into the future,” Gainey said.

In the coming weeks, the school system will release information regarding how students can enroll in the school, name a principal and select teachers and support staff to operate the school. This new virtual academy will consist of students in grades K-8 who will enjoy a different route than the traditional education system in brick-and-mortar schools.

If a student chooses to enroll in the virtual academy, that student will be required to make a one-year commitment to the school. The student cannot choose during the 2021-22 school year to go back to his or her base school.

Gainey has said he never had to wrestle with a problem of this magnitude and complexity in nearly 30 years working in education. He maintains that schools in Randolph County are taking the proper precautions to continue to build the system’s schedule safely, even as he acknowledges the concerns some parents have regarding student health.

“I love the school environment, but everybody doesn’t love the traditional school environment the way I loved it and still love it,” Gainey said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve got to keep changing with the times. Just like I mentioned a little while ago, why would we build Trinity Middle just like a school that was built 30 years ago?

“Same token, why would we continue to roll the same strategies out to children who are changing everyday? Just as talented as kids from 30 years ago, they’re changing. They have different interests, different needs.”

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.