HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s a school year like no other, and staff at Horry County Schools are still adjusting to the hybrid model of learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The hope is that things will run a bit smoother in the coming weeks, including at Forestbrook Midde School.
About 900 students are enrolled at Forestbrook Middle School. A third of them enrolled in the virtual program and the rest enrolled in the ‘brick and mortar’ traditional learning program.
Principal Melissa Rutenberg says the school will make some changes so the school year can finish strong for both staff and students. The ultimate goal is to make sure students can keep their minds on their education and not on the pandemic.
Because of the ever-changing coronavirus threat, Rutenberg says staff are constantly focused on ways to make the traditional learning program safer for students each week, especially inside of the classrooms.
“Just continuing to adjust our furniture to make sure kids have room and and have the space they need to feel comfortable and safe at school,” Rutenberg said. “We continue to order more supplies as we see the need because we can’t have any [students sharing] supplies in the classroom.”
Rutenberg added enforcing the safety rules on the school grounds doesn’t need many changes, as students enrolled in the traditional learning program have been complying with the safety requirements. She says students enrolled in the ‘brick and mortar’ program have been wearing their masks and keeping six-feet of distance from others.
Both the traditional learning and the virtual learning programs have started off strong, she added. But she says some parents have reached out to the school requesting a program change.
“I have received some calls and emails from parents that realized virtual might not be the best fit for their family, and that’s absolutely fine," Rutenberg said.
Horry County Schools announced parents can switch their kids from the virtual program into the traditional program this week. Parents will receive a message through their portal and can make a request for the program change.
Rutenberg says in preparation for those students making a program switch, the school is looking first at the staffing numbers.
“It will entail making sure we have enough teachers to teach the amount of kids that are interested in coming back to us, so that process will take time,” Rutenberg said. “It will purely depend on how many kids want to come back. As we know those numbers, we’ll adjust classrooms, we’ll spread out more if we need too, we’ll move classrooms if we need to.”
Rutenberg notes that right now, they don’t know how many students are requesting to change programs, but more precise numbers are expected after the deadline for parents to make that request expires on Sunday.