CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - We are officially in the second week of students experiencing education in a totally different way.
School districts across the Lowcountry have been trying to utilize eLearning resources and tools to make sure students’ needs are being met.
With the governor announcing schools will now be closed through the end of April, teachers know there will be even more challenges ahead.
“I don’t know of a teacher out there who wouldn’t rather be in the classroom with their kids right now,” Mindy Smith, a teacher with the Berkeley County School District, said.
But a couple of weeks into the new workflow, things are starting to fall into place.
Smith and Julia Rowland, another teacher with BCSD, said that having a Google Classroom has been one of the biggest assets during this period because everything a student and parent needs is all in one place.
Smith and Rowland said they are constantly checking to see if students have questions and emailing parents. They also have set up several Google “Meets” and one-on-one conferences with the students to make sure they are understanding the material.
“We’re going to get through this and do whatever we can do to make sure that we’re teaching our kids and pushing them forward and challenging them in whatever ways we can,” Rowland said.
But a challenge, Smith added, many aren’t thinking about – is that teachers are parents themselves.
“Trying to juggle the demands of teaching from home plus teaching our own child while keeping everything in your home on a normal as can be schedule and day… I also know that’s been very challenging for many teachers,” Smith said.
And vice versa. They know parents are going through a similar situation. A reason they said giving parents and students grace right now is really important.
“You can only imagine what they’re thinking right now being ripped away from their friends and their teachers,” Rowland said. “So as parents, hug them a little tighter for us and because we can’t right now and just make sure… do what you can right now as far as the academics but know that teachers are here to support you.”
With the governor saying schools will be closed through the end of April, we asked the districts what their next steps will be since students will now have to continue eLearning for a longer period of time. Their responses are below.
BERKELEY COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Although we understand that this continued closure will be difficult for many to process and confront at this time, we want to assure you that our central services staff have worked diligently to prepare to respond to news of an expanded closure. We are committed to supporting our teachers, students, parents and guardians during the extended closure, as we have been since closures were announced on March 15.
We have sought student, teacher, and parent feedback during this unprecedented closure. We are proud of the strides each have taken to meet the needs of eLearning. However, we have also listened to constructive feedback of the difficulties of eLearning.
Accordingly, BCSD is moving to a blended learning platform, a hybrid model that integrates online content with traditional teaching. Teachers and parents will get the additional support that they need to keep students focused, and students will continue to receive the personalized learning only their teachers can provide. This blended learning platform will allow us to continue ensuring that we provide a high quality instructional experience for this extended instructional time. You will receive more information about this new blended learning soon.
Continue to complete your eLearning lessons until we contact you about this new exciting platform. School leaders and teachers will be provided with training on the blended learning platform before its public launch.
We will provide you with updates regarding our modified learning plans, and we will remain committed to supporting our students, parents, guardians, and teachers during these unprecedented times.
CHARLESTON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Those with the Learning Services Division are working with the Operations Division (Information Technology Department) to ensure as many students as possible have devices and access to the internet as that provides the most efficient way to provide meaningful instruction remotely. Several schools are distributing devices this week. IT technicians are now going out (started today) into the community to replace broken CCSD-issued devices for students and staff, and parents/students have a number they can call for technology concerns (as it relates to their course work) - (843) 849-3400.2) Particularly for K-8, the Learning Services Division is reviewing the curriculum for ELA and Math in each grade level to target the key standards that would have been covered in this final quarter at each grade level.
The Learning Services Division is exploring whether the District can offer some centralized resources such as a homework helpline; mental health and social-emotional support resources, including professionals who can offer support; and online model classes so that there are multiple ways for students to learn core material.
COLLETON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT
No response as of Tuesday.
DORCHESTER SCHOOL DISTRICT 2
A conference call was happening Tuesday with curriculum staff about the “next steps” and officials said they would be in touch after that.
DORCHESTER SCHOOL DISTRICT 4
No response as of Tuesday.
GEORGETOWN COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT
No response as of Tuesday.