Internet access a concern for distance learning in S.C.

Internet access a concern for distance learning in S.C.

BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - South Carolina is on its sixth week of online and packet-based learning. That will continue for the rest of the year.

The governor and state superintendent announced Wednesday schools will not be meeting in-person for the remainder of the school year.

It was reported during the news conference Wednesday that of the 85 school districts in South Carolina, the state superintendent says around 30 of them are relying on pencil and paper learning; that’s around 35% of the state.

“I think the digital divide in South Carolina has become very apparent,” S.C. Superintendent Molly Spearman said.

Distance learning faces a huge challenge; access to technology.

“There are still areas that families do not have access to the Internet,” Spearman said.

Beaufort County is one of only 19 districts in the state that have access to in-depth online learning. They, along with many schools, will continue the year that way.

“Teachers know what the most foundational standards are that need to be taught and that is what they’ve tried to address.”

The state is still finding ways to help students access resources, but E-learning is not the only thing they provide.

“The state had delivered millions of meals, somewhere between four and five million meals. And that service will continue as it always does during the summer months.”

Meal programs are vital for many students to survive. They say finding a way to continue to feed students is a top priority.

Since schools are closed for this year, next year is already on the state’s minds. Programs like summer school, sports, and even in-person learning are all up in the air, and a decision will be made on their status when we get closer to that time.

Beaufort County officials react to state’s decision

Beaufort County officials react to state’s decision

“I’m concerned about all of our kids. I’m going to be honest with you. This is unprecedented, this is very different, I am concerned about how we are looking and how we are addressing those critical things,” Beaufort County Superintendent Dr. Frank Rodriquez said.

Beaufort County has several decisions to make. They know one group of students, seniors, are very concerned.

“We have always planned on some sort of graduation, whether it be the ability to do it physically or whether it had to be a virtual graduation,” Rodriquez said.

Most students will move to the next grade, and a new grading system will allow next year’s teachers to learn what needs they have.

“Grading on a rubric sort of around meeting standard at 100, a numeric grade in terms of approaching standard would be an 85, and not meeting standard would be around a 70.”

Now, they must decide how they will use their CARES funding. They say they haven’t decided yet, but they have ideas.

“One thing we know how incredibly important technology has been to us through this period. So that something we must look at. Additionally, it would be important to see what might be possible to do for kids over the summer. Maybe utilize some of that to try and impact student learning over the summer,” Rodriquez said.

They hope parents help students continue their learning.

“We do want them to help us keep their kids engaged. Help them stay engaged with their teachers,” he said.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.