COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) is providing teachers and principals with free, online training for effective virtual instruction.

The training is available for up to 6,000 educators and is being funded by part the SCDE’s federal CARES Act allocation.

In the first week, SCDE says more than 1,700 educators have signed up for the sessions, which outline what the South Carolina Teaching Standards 4.0 rubric looks and sounds like in a virtual setting.

The full series covers topics ranging from planning, delivering instruction, and providing an engaging virtual classroom environment, with two separate tracks for principals and teachers to receive role-specific guidance.

The sessions are optional, and educators can decide when to take each of the three 90-minute sessions based on their schedule, with after-school, evening, and weekend opportunities.

“The expectations for virtual learning in the upcoming school year will be much higher and more rigorous than those students and parents experienced amidst COVID-19 school facility closures,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “We are excited that through this partnership with NIET, South Carolina teachers will be able to learn from experts on how to deliver high quality, engaging content virtually throughout the 2020-2021 school year.”

The virtual training series is being provided by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), a non-profit that has worked with the state to develop the SCTS 4.0 rubric and provide training to South Carolina educators over the past several years. NIET has been training teachers and leaders this summer on how to translate effective instructional strategies into the virtual environment.

“By offering thousands of these sessions statewide, South Carolina is showing itself as an innovative leader that is committed to investing in its teachers and leaders. Educators know how to provide their students with effective, differentiated instruction, but they need ongoing support to build confidence and understanding about what that looks like in the virtual classroom,” said NIET CEO Dr. Candice McQueen. “South Carolina’s approach is worth noting – and the initial demand from educators registering for these sessions is telling – as other states consider how to best support their teachers and principals this year.”

Training sessions are taught live and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, with sessions spread out over the fall and spring semesters.

Educators can now register for fall 2020 sessions, and spring semester dates will be announced on Dec. 1. Current South Carolina educators can learn more and register for the free training on NIET’s website,