Some HCS parents support move to full-time in-person learning, others concerned

Opinions mixed on full-time face-to-face learning

CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County parents are sharing their thoughts as their children prepare to head back to full-time face-to-face learning.

Horry County Schools announced elementary school students enrolled in the hybrid learning model will move to five days of in-person learning on February 8.

Some parents said they support the school district’s decision.

“I feel like it’s a step in the right direction,” Briana Walsh said. “I feel like the mental health for the kids is being overlooked during this pandemic.”

Stephanie McKeown’s first-grade daughter is among the students heading back to the classroom full-time.

“I’m very glad they are going back to five days a week,” McKeown said.

McKeown said her daughter has been learning virtually since March of last year. She felt the virtual program was the best decision at the time because she had a newborn son with a heart condition.

However, as time went on, she realized her daughter didn’t learn well remotely and enrolled her into the brick-and-mortar program for the upcoming semester.

“Yeah, I’m still kind of nervous about it, but it’s very important that these kids get their education,” McKeown said.

To do that safely, HCS invested $5 million in reopening schools, which included adding plexiglass barriers around students’ desks.

“My son doesn’t care about the plexiglass and he doesn’t think they’re claustrophobic and he’s beyond excited about the five days,” Walsh said.

But, not every parent agrees with the school district’s use of plexiglass.

“It just reminded straight like it was a prison cage,” Justin Yarbrough said.

After seeing a video of desks barricaded by plexiglass in an HCS classroom, Yarbrough decided to remove his son from in-person learning.

“My son had seen it on the news and he started crying and he said please don’t put me in one of those things,” Yarbrough said.

The father has since started a petition calling for the school district to figure out a less confining way for students and teachers to be safe while face-to-face.

So far, it’s garnered more than 900 signatures.

“I’m perfectly fine with them putting up some preventative measures, but those ones at River Oaks and I think Loris... they’re cages,” Yarbrough said. “There’s no other way to see it... metal bracketed cages.”

A spokesperson with the state Board of Education said plexiglass is not required in schools, but it is recommended as part of the school district’s effort to lessen the possibility of spreading the virus.

Copyright 2021 WMBF. All rights reserved.