HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Despite continued uncertainty over how the 2020-2021 school year will begin, Horry County teachers returned to work Thursday for the first Teacher Work and Staff Development Day.
While students are set to resume class Sept. 8, teachers are still waiting to learn how they will teach.
The district will determine the learning structure Monday, following the release of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s latest disease activity report.
The learning models include either full-time traditional learning five days a week, a hybrid of face-to-face and distance learning, or distance learning five days a week.
Right now, HCS is planning for 13,377 students to take part in the virtual program, about 30 percent of the district’s student population.
“At elementary level we have about 5,900 students sign up. At the middle school level 3,778 students. And, at the high school level 3,699 students,” said Lisa Bourcier, public information officer for Horry County Schools.
As of Aug. 14th, Horry County Schools received 289 applications for virtual teachers. WMBF News is still working to learn how many total teachers the district needs to lead virtual instruction.
“We are working to finalize those teaching assignments,” Bourcier explained.
District officials said they are still working to develop schedules for both face-to-face and virtual programs.
“HCS is finalizing the selection of virtual teachers and assigning students to A/B days. Once these decisions are finalized and we know which staff members will serve in the ’brick and mortar’ model and our virtual program, we will work quickly to complete class schedules and teacher assignments,” Bourcier said.
To help field questions about virtual learning, the district developed a Frequently Asked Questions page on its website.
Many of those questions pertain to a teachers’ commitment to virtual school and what it could mean for their current brick and mortar positions:
- Is there a one year commitment for a full time virtual teaching position? A one-year commitment is expected; however, based on student enrollment, teacher assignments may change at the beginning of second semester.
- Should a teacher be accepted/hired to go full time virtual, what will be the process for that teacher to return to his/her brick and mortar school, or will that even be an option? If a teacher wishes to return to his/her previous assignment, it is the intent of HCS to return the teacher to the previous assignment. However, all teaching assignments are contingent upon student enrollment.
- At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, will I be guaranteed a position at my home school? Student enrollment drives all placement decisions and the 2020-2021 school year is no exception. With this in mind, if an educator would like to exit the virtual placement and return to a brick and mortar site, it is the intent of HCS to return the educator to the previous assignment.
- If selected for this role, will this be an ongoing placement in 2021-2022, or will I resume work at my home school? Each year, employee placement is determined by student enrollment. Therefore, there can be no absolute guarantee. If an educator would like to exit the virtual placement and return to a brick-and-mortar site, it is the intent of HCS to return the educator to the previous assignment.
- If you are a virtual school teacher for only first semester and we are able to resume normal school activity for second semester, will you be able to go back to the school you were in? A one-year commitment is expected; however, based on student enrollment, teacher assignments may change at the beginning of second semester. If a teacher wishes to return to his/her previous assignment, it is the intent of HCS to return the teacher to the previous assignment. However, all teaching assignments are contingent upon student enrollment.
“I know parents and students again are anxiously awaiting those class assignments and teacher assignments, whether they’re signed up for the HCS virtual program or doing the hybrid schedule. And, again, it is quite a task. It takes a lot of time doing those assignments and we’re working extremely hard and very quickly to try to finalize that and get that information to our parents and students,” Bourcier said of the process.
WMBF News will continue to update you on the district’s reopening plans.