school bus

Horry County Schools emailed parents today to get their thoughts on how local families want to see their children's education go this Fall.  

The district said that since graduation, they have been fully in preparation mode for the next school year.

"However, due to COVID-19, our preparations will be different this summer," the district said in an email to parents. "Our focus and priorities are directed toward protecting the health, safety, and wellness of students and staff while providing students with the best possible learning experience that is as close to normal as health and safety regulations will allow."

Because of the many variables impacting returning to school in a pandemic, they said, an HCS Re-opening Task Force was formed, and several sub-committees were created to identify issues and to make plans that will address pandemic concerns that may impact our schools’ operations. 

"Subcommittees composed of principals, teachers, parents, and students, along with district staff members, are considering the following areas: Public Health & Safety, School Operations & Logistics, Teaching & Learning, Equity & Family Needs, and Social-emotional Health," the email said.

Options - which the district says are in the event that regular learning cannot occur - include a hybrid plan, full-time distance learning, full-time virtual, or not enrolling the child in Horry County Schools for next school year at all. Elementary students did not have the virtual option listed.

The hybrid plan has students returning to school face-to-face with enhanced safety and health precautions on alternating days, and on other days will engage in distance learning from home. 

Full-time distance learning, they say, is where students will not return to the physical school, and in most cases, teachers from the student's assigned school will provide instruction through "consistent communication tools", ranging from Google Meet, Remind 101, to email and more), and a district learning management system like Google Classroom or Seesaw.

The full-time virtual plan is different from the distance learning option in that students will enroll and participate in a full-time virtual school through HCS Virtual. Teachers identified as full-time virtual instructors will serve students in this option. This option requires a semester or year-long commitment. 

"Families are responsible for providing a supportive environment for online learning," the district's details said. 

The email asked that one parent from each household answer the survey for the family.

"This survey will inform the HCS Re-Opening Task Force about parent preferences and expectations given the restrictions which may be in place next year, either at the time our schools re-open or at any time during the academic year," the district email said.

Chairman Ken Richardson addressed the district in a YouTube video on social media Thursday afternoon to let everyone know the board is working hard on finding a solution. 

"There's a lot of doubt going on around the county right now about what's going to happen with the new school year," Richardson said. "We know this is going to be a difficult situation and a difficult decision to make."

He said he knows they aren't going to be able to make everyone happy. 

"We know it's going to be tough times and we understand that," he said. "COVID-19 is still here. It's still with us. It's still a concern. We've got to do what we feel like is best for the children and the safety of our employees."

Parents have until July 3 to submit a response through the electronic form.

"We're going to try to be proactive ... and do the best we can. Work with us, help us to all understand, we're in this together and we're going to try to do what is best for you and for the children," Richardson said. 

According to a district press release sent Thursday afternoon,  the HCS Re-opening Task Force will have a plan ready to share with parents, employees, and the public by July 27, 2020.

Check back with My Horry News for updates. 

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