All HCS Virtual Transfers Approved, Many Parents Still Worried | Covid-19 coverage
Horry County Schools confirmed Monday that all 3,031 requests from HCS Virtual K-12 students to return to physical schools have been accepted.
According to HCS Director of Studies Boone Myrick, all requests to transfer students in person to switch to HCS Virtual were also accepted.
While this makes a lot of families happy, many parents are upset that this change also included the relocation of teachers already linked to students, among other concerns with the HCS Virtual program in general.
Whitney Freeman, whose six-year-old son Cameron is a special education student in the district, understands why the change was made, but said parents were more frustrated because all of the changes seemed to fall on them.
Two weeks ago, parents of HCS Virtual had the opportunity to submit a request and have their child returned to their base school for in-person learning “within the limits of the authorized space”, and those who wished leaving the physical class and accessing the virtual one could submit one. also.
HCS in-person students currently follow a hybrid format, with two days in class and three days of distance learning, according to the recent disease activity report from HC’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. .
Cameron’s already beloved teacher has been asked to return to a physical classroom and her virtual students, including Cameron, have been assigned a new teacher.
“There were only tears here [the other night] because we love it [Cameron’s teacher.] He got her last year, and now she’s backed off. The only familiar face he knows is receding, ”Freeman said.
Dean Blumberg, parent of an HCS high school and online instructor for a local tech school, spoke to the board in a public comment Monday night and said relationships are key in online learning.
Blumberg said learning from their teacher is a big part of her child’s learning process.
“My children had a week to see, hear and interact [with their teacher] before being blinded that [the teacher] was leaving and a new teacher would take over, ”said Blumberg. “This means that all of building essential relationships has to start all over again.”
Blumberg said his correspondence from HCS officials asked him to be patient and told him some things were “unfortunate”, but said he knew what he would say to his daughter if she asked him why his teacher had changed.
“When my child asks why her stressed teacher is holding back tears on Google Meet when she informed the class that she had just found out she was leaving, I won’t tell her it’s unhappy and to be patient . I’m going to tell him that his mismanagement and the lack of support from the Horry County schools caused it, ”Blumberg said.
Mark Porter, executive director of elementary education with HCS, confirmed that as a result of the class balancing, some students in the physical schools and the virtual program have been assigned to different teachers.
“It’s reminiscent of the same process we go through at the start of each school year when fluctuations in enrollment occur and we need to get teachers to balance classes,” Porter said.
Porter said making changes in teacher schedules and / or assignments as needed is an inevitable part of the start of every school year.
HCS mother Kate Martin also spoke in a public comment, in agreement with Blumberg.
“It is not sincere to pass off what has happened as an inevitable part of the school year,” said Martin.
Martin said the only source of useful information she had was a group of parents from HCS Virtual who came together in a Facebook group.
“Some families have chosen virtual because of COVID-19, but many of us have chosen it for the structure, to avoid week by week. … HCS Virtual was the opposite of structure, ”said Martin.
Edi Cox, executive director of e-learning and instructional technology at HCS, said 17 teachers in the virtual program were returning to physical schools.
“In order to make the transition as efficient as possible for students returning to physical classrooms on Monday, September 28, principals, vice-principals and instructional coaches provided support to returning teachers who were setting up classrooms. Cox said.
Teachers, who typically spend weeks setting up their classrooms before school starts, had Thursday and Friday last week to set up their rooms for transfer students.
“These teachers have also continued to support their currently assigned students in the virtual program during this transition,” Cox said.
Pamela Jakubowski, a mother of HCS students in the Loris area, told the board that she finds it alarming that there is no workbook to help with fine motor skills and no guidelines clear to virtual teachers, and that she was not satisfied with the amount of live teaching and office hours.
“Not even two weeks later, and your solution to the great confusion of a poorly planned virtual program was to reopen registrations, which only exacerbated the problems,” Jakubowski said.
Alison Richardson was happy to learn that her request had been accepted for her children to return to school in person.
Unlike a number of parents in the district, Richardson was able to stay home and help her kids with the HCS Virtual job, but regardless of the fun school setup she provided at their home, it didn’t. was not the same.
The time spent in front of a screen was more than she imagined.
“Mentally and emotionally I felt like it was a lot to cover. The amount of screen time, the amount to read, the things we had to print, that was a ridiculous amount. We were told we would be forced to spend four to five hours a day on this stuff, but we didn’t know we would. [physically] in front of the computer so much – that was a lot to ask for myself, not to mention my freshman, ”said Richardson.
It started to take its toll on his daughter, even though they were trying to have story time and science outside, and Richardson said his virtual teacher was wonderful, but his daughter was “in it.” the dumps, and something big was definitely missing.
“Sometimes she would just sit and watch and let the tears fall,” Richardson said. “When I found out that they were opening the option [to go back in school], I said “Thank you, Lord, this must be better!” It must be better than what we [were] do here. Mentally, it’s not healthy.
While Superintendent Rick Maxey said at the last school board meeting that parents requesting transfer of their child should continue in HCS Virtual until they hear about their request, Richardson said after submitting the request, she was immediately banned from PowerSchool, the district’s student data management software.
She also wasn’t able to access Genius and Buzz, the other apps her kids needed to access to complete work that week after her request.
However, she is convinced that her children will catch up and prosper.
“[The principal] called me and was so sweet, saying she was so excited to welcome them again. Their teachers contacted me and added me to their applications, ”said Richardson. “Every family is different. People with autoimmune diseases or other life-threatening illnesses, [virtual] is completely understandable to them. But for the mindset of our kids… it’s just not the same as being in a classroom with structure.
Cox said principals were responsible for the placement of students at the school level in terms of how students from HCS Virtual were placed in classrooms.
“The multiple factors include, but are not limited to, current enrollments, demographics, assessment data and individual student needs,” Porter said.
Parent Ronald Dinley also spoke to the board during a public commentary on his six children in HCS Virtual, and how he is also upset by what he says is “blatant disregard” for virtual students.
“This is our future. We have given up our future. … This is unacceptable, ”Dinley said.
Maxey has confirmed that the DHEC disease activity report will now be released on Thursday instead of Monday, according to DHEC information. This will give three more days to plan for the next training week.