Darlington County School District Announces Online Start for School Year
DARLINGTON, S.C. – The Darlington County Board of Education voted Monday night to begin the 2020-21 school year online for all students, regardless of whether they registered for the district’s traditional face-to-face schools or the new Darlington County Virtual Academy. The decision is based on COVID-19 infection data, recommendations by DHEC, CDC, S.C. Department of Education, and the AccelerateED task force, and with the safety of students, staff, and Darlington County families in mind.
“The responsibility of this board is to keep our staff and students safe, and at the same time, make sure our students get the education they need,” said Warren Jeffords, chairman of the Darlington County Board of Education. “Let me assure you, everyone on this board and in our leadership wants to get back to a five-day face-to-face mode of learning as soon and as safely as we can. That’s our priority. That’s the most effective way to educate our kids and that is what we are working toward.”
“This is not how we hoped to begin our school year,” said Dr. Tim Newman, superintendent. “We’ve said all along that we would follow the science, DHEC guidelines, and AccelerateED guidelines as they relate to returning to school. Unfortunately, right now that means we need to begin school online to protect our families and staff. We are committed to providing the best education possible for our students, regardless of whether that learning is eLearning or face-to-face.”
In two weeks, the district will review the DHEC data and medical community recommendations. At that point, the district will decide whether to continue eLearning for all or transition to face-to-face instruction. The district’s goal is to have face-to-face instruction five days a week for all students as soon as it is safely possible. The next decision will be made on Sept. 8, and will be implemented Sept. 21.
Parents and students can expect eLearning to be vastly different than the emergency distance learning implemented this past spring. Teachers will engage with students regularly and post live and recorded lessons, as well as monitor student attendance, progress, and course engagement through online hubs, such as SeeSaw and Schoology. Some classes will require students to connect through a phone call or internet access to participate in class. The district does not intend to distribute any paper packets this year. The DCSD is also working to find solutions for families with limited internet access.
All students in grades 9-12 will begin the 2020-21 school year Sept. 8 in an all eLearning format.
However, the first day for students in grades K-8 will vary.
The state requires the school district to add five LEAP days to the beginning of the school year for students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade. These first five days of school will be used to assess students to determine where they are and what they need to achieve success this year. K-8 students will only need to attend school on the one LEAP day they are assigned to take the tests, pick up their devices, and get information about eLearning.
Schools will notify families of their assigned LEAP day.
· September 8 – half of the Darlington County Virtual Academy students
· September 9 – the remaining Darlington County Virtual Academy students
· September 10 – half of each school’s student body
· September 11 – the other half of each school’s student body
This is what the beginning of the school year will look like for DCSD students:
· Grades 9-12: Students will begin virtual or eLearning classes on Sept. 8.
· Grades K-8: Students will attend one LEAP day the first week, then begin eLearning classes on Monday, Sept. 14.
The district is also seeking partnerships with community and faith organizations to set up community learning centers to assist parents who must work and need assistance with childcare and supervision. Any faith- or community-based organization interested in serving the families of our community should visit the DCSD website to sign up for more information.