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Horry County Schools works to make up for pandemic-related learning loss

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 5:04 AM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - What was perhaps the most unique school year in Horry County is quickly coming to a close, but before classes wrap up next week, the school board is already thinking about a plan for next school year.

The past two school years have been impacted by the coronavirus, forcing thousands of student to learn from home for at least part of the year.

Horry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey and his team were granted $27 million in federal funds to help close the learning gap caused by the pandemic.

They came up with a plan that would put most of that funding toward “interventionists.”

Horry County Schools created a plan for spending federal funds on learning loss recovery.
Horry County Schools created a plan for spending federal funds on learning loss recovery.(WMBF)

Teachers would identify students who may have fallen behind over the past few years, and the interventionist would work with them in small groups.

“We know that many of our students lost time last year in terms of instruction, so you have lowest level to highest level readers that may have gaps in instruction based on the model that served them this past year,” said an elementary school representative during the meeting.

Horry County Schools says preliminary data shows graduation rates are dropping as well, so the plan would pay for a graduation coach and a work-based learning coach at each school.

For several board members, one interventionist per school and two at the middle school level may not be enough.

“What if we spent more money and we tried to get as many of those additional schools in the elementary schools to help work in that area,” said District 5 Rep. Howard Barnard.

The school board could spend additional federal funding on creating more positions, but the challenge is finding more teachers.

“We’re going to be competing within the same pool as other school districts around the state,” said Maxey.

Another update from the superintendent is that plexiglass will be taken out of all the schools before the next school year begins.

He also expects the face mask requirement to be lifted this summer as well and presented a draft plan to safely return to school next year.

The plan will also be paid for with federal funding, but in order to access that money, the district needs the community’s input.

They have put a survey on the district’s website that can be taken by different members of the community including parents, teachers and school staff.

It asks about top concerns and what kind of health and safety measures are essential in schools.

The survey is open until June 11.

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