Never been in an eLearning situation? Here's how it will work for many K-12 schools in SC
While South Carolina schools are closed through March 31, districts will be sending out remote learning lessons for students that will differ from virtual school in several ways.
The state's Department of Education has required all districts submit an eLearning plan by end of March 20 that includes 10 days of instruction to account for two weeks schools are closed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
School officials say these eLearning plans are not the same as virtual school classes, which are taught online because students who have internet access signed up for them. Greenville County school officials said the intent of eLearning is to be a stop-gap measure to ensure students are not losing information they've already learned.
Google Classrooms are key for many districts' eLearning plans
In Greenville County Schools, eLearning means the use of Google Classroom for students in third grade and up — students will automatically get assignments through the program from their teachers, as long as their Chromebooks are connected to Wi-Fi. For younger students, eLearning means worksheets and printable material that can be accessed on individual teacher websites or at the schools.
Teri Brinkman, spokesperson for Greenville County Schools, said the intent of the eLearning plans in the district are to allow students to "review and remediate" lessons they were taught in the classroom.
Greenville County Schools Superintendent Burke Royster said eLearning will not replace the value of learning from teachers in a classroom, but it is the best emergency measure districts can take to ensure students do not miss instruction.
Most districts have said they use Google Classroom to send assignments out to students.
Here's how it works:
- Students will receive content to review or complete for the two weeks schools are closed via Google Classroom or through their teacher's individual website, which can be found on each school's website.
- Timelines for students to turn in assignments is different for each district.
- In Greenville County Schools, students will turn in assignments based on the timelines given by their teachers. Students who do not have internet access can turn in the assignments within five days of returning to school and can call teachers to ask about assignments.
- In Anderson County School District 4, students will have two days to turn in completed assignments from the time they are assigned. For students in high schools, assignments will equal about one hour of time per class each day. Students in seventh and eighth grade will receive a one-hour assignment for four subject areas each day. Students in preschool through sixth grade will receive daily activities to complete and turn in when schools open back up.
Some districts are approaching eLearning differently than others. In Greenville, students will primarily be reviewing information they already learned, but in Anderson County School District 5 and Anderson County School District 3, students will still be taught new information as they would if they were physically in a classroom.
Able SC, a South Carolina nonprofit that works to help people with disabilities live independently, also announced Tuesday it had released free, online classes for students with disabilities during the school closures. The classes are intended to teach life skills such as time management, fact-checking news and managing stress, among other subjects.
For students without Wi-Fi
District officials said they will work with families who do not have internet access at home to provide lesson plans, and many districts, including Greenville County, have said students can use Wi-Fi in school parking lots and car lines if they have transportation to get there.
Coronavirus updates in SC:Free internet offered to some families of K-12 students
The state Department of Education also plans on stationing 3,000 school buses with Wi-Fi access across South Carolina for students to use. The locations of those buses have not yet been decided, but spokesperson Ryan Brown said rural and high-poverty districts would be prioritized.
Some internet providers, such as Charter Spectrum and Comcast, have also announced they will be providing 60 days of free broadband and Wi-Fi to some families who do not have internet access.
Here's when eLearning will start for Upstate districts
Some districts in the state, such as Pickens County, have already used eLearning plans in the past for inclement weather days, though not for an extended period of time.
For Greenville County Schools, eLearning will start March 18. For some districts, such as Anderson County School District 5, eLearning started on Monday.
Here are the days when students are expected to start eLearning in the Upstate:
- March 16: Anderson County School District 5
- March 17: Anderson County School District 1, Anderson County School District 2, Anderson County School District 4
- March 18: Greenville County Schools, School District of Pickens County, Anderson County School District 3
Here are the websites parents are encouraged to check out for more information about each district's eLearning program: check here for Greenville County Schools, here for the School District of Pickens County, here for Anderson County School District 1, here for Anderson County School District 2, here for Anderson County School District 3, here for Anderson County School District 4 and check here for Anderson County School District 5.
Ariel Gilreath is a watchdog reporter focusing on education and family issues with The Greenville News and Independent Mail. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ArielGilreath.