Some Horry County parents torn on whether to change students’ learning programs

Some Horry County parents torn about whether to change kid’s learning program during pandemic

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - While some Horry County parents may have made a decision about their child’s education through the end of the school year, others say they’re torn about whether to switch.

This comes after the school district released a timeline listing when parents can make program changes for the spring semester. Parents will be given options to switch from the virtual environment to a face-to-face learning option and vice versa.

According to the district, families will be notified through email and ParentLink on Dec. 1 with a more detailed timeline and information on learning options. On the appropriate dates, parents will be able to switch their students’ current program for the spring semester by accessing a link provided by the district.

For example, for students currently enrolled in HCS Virtual program who want to switch, parents have from Dec. 7 through midnight on Dec. 14 to switch into the traditional learning option.

On the opposite end, for students currently enrolled in brick-and-mortar but would like to switch to the virtual program, a link will be available on Dec. 15 through midnight on Dec. 22.

Some families said they’re conflicted about whether to change their programs because of so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and COVID-19 threat.

Horry County parent Cindy Johnson has two children enrolled in the brick-and-mortar program. Johnson said both of her kids have received letters this semester from the Department of Health and Environmental Control, notifying them about a confirmed COVID-19 case in their school.

Johnson said she’s closely following the Horry County Schools COVID-19 Dashboard, which breaks down the confirmed COVID-19 cases on school campuses. She added the dashboard is what’s helping her determine if she’s switching her youngest child out of the traditional program, into virtual learning next semester.

Johnson also said she’s uncomfortable with how fluid the pandemic has been, particularly after learning about a COVID-19 case at her child’s school. After hearing about the district considering five days of face-to-face instruction after plexiglass is installed inside the schools, Johnson is feeling wearier about her daughter continuing with brick-and-mortar.

“I’m just going to keep watching the positivity rate,” she said. “I’ll keep watching as close as I can to see how many children or how many teachers are sick in the school. I’m going to see how the whole thing plays out before I make a decision and to see in fact if they do get the plexiglass [installed inside the classrooms.]”

Johnson said she’ll make a final decision before the deadline approaches.

Caroline Williams, another Horry County parent, said until this point, her daughter had been struggling in the virtual learning program. She even wanted to enroll her in brick-and-mortar.

Williams said the virtual learning experience has now improved over the last month, saying there’s been clearer communication with staff and her child’s grades have improved. She also had been considering brick-and-mortar for her child next semester, but after Monday’s school board meeting, she feels the COVID-19 threat is too risky.

“If my child gets sick and brings it home to me, I’m high risk,” said Williams. “I don’t want to take that risk. Right now, we’re going to keep working it out [with] virtual school because honestly speaking, I cannot risk my child. And plexiglass is just not enough for me.”

Not every parent agrees.

Some parents, such as Brandi Roberts, feel their students are flourishing and safe in the brick-and-mortar program.

“I will probably keep my daughter in brick-and-mortar,” she said.

Roberts added that face-to-face instruction is what’s best for her family and sees no reason to “rock the boat” now.

She said her daughter is flourishing in the more traditional program because it gives her more time to directly interact with a teacher twice a week. For that reason, Roberts says a program switch won’t be happening for her child.

Roberts also said she trusts the district to provide a safe classroom environment while providing the best educational environment option for her kid.

“She loves the interaction of school and be able to have somewhat of a normalcy,” she said. “I’ll be glad when they get plexiglass installed and they can go back to 5-days of [face-to-face] instruction a week.”

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