SC adjusting to homeschooling; rural students face challenges with internet

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – Connectivity for rural students, measuring a student’s success, and grade readiness are challenges the South Carolina Department of Education, parents and teachers are facing now that schools are closed.

Governor Henry McMaster ordered schools to be closed until the end of April as concerns of the coronavirus grow. The extended closure has caused school districts to adjust lesson plans.

“The parameters were already set for how can you continue teaching in the case of inclement weather, snow days things like that. So when we saw this coming we said to other districts you need to come up with an emergency instruction plan,” explained State Superintendent Molly Spearman.

Some districts are using paper and pencil packets that students have to turn in while other districts are using technology.

Nicole Walker is in one of those districts. “It’s really figuring out what’s essential and not essential and narrowing down the technology to match with that,” she said.

E-learning allows teachers and students and teachers to monitor a student’s progress. However, many teachers are finding connecting with some students now that they’re out of school is a little more difficult.

“The biggest challenge has been making sure everyone has internet access and equity in that,” Walker continued. “We have students that don’t have internet at home and connectivity at home.”

End of the year testing like SC Ready has been canceled and several districts have adjusted grading guidelines to accommodate the impact of the pandemic.

The department of education and teachers say right now a student’s mental health and making it through these next few weeks is a priority.

“The emotional health and physical health of our students and families is very important so we’ve had to back up and say do the very best we can,” Spearman added.

Walker agreed. “One of the things that is important is making sure that they are not feeling overwhelmed, that they’re not panicked, that they’re not any more stressed than this situation dictates,” she said.

Spearman says if schools are closed for the rest of this school year the state will have to develop an assessment for teachers to determine if a student is behind.

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