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Aiken School Board talks at-home learning concerns

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 11:56 PM EDT
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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - With more than 4,000 students quarantining in Aiken County Schools there are concerns across the district over how kids at home are learning. Superintendent King Laurence suggested they start live streaming in-person classes for those at home to watch. There were mixed reviews and some teachers even demonstrating outside.

It sounds simple enough. You hit play on a Zoom call and the kids at home tune in. But teachers are worried it’s going to become a circus of trying to make sure kids in class and across the county on a screen are paying attention.

Concerns loom over how students who are quarantining are learning. Many usually completing paper packets while isolated. Laurence believes he has a solution.

“We need to address the needs of approximately 5,000 students. 5,000 students who are students who are at home,” said Laurence.

But some teachers are left worrying. Teachers like those demonstrating outside.

“We are drowning,” said Dr. Patricia Hanks, District 4 Representative.

“I feel like our students need either a virtual setting, or they need an in-class setting. They are not going to benefit from a teacher doing both of those things at the same time,” said Bethany Ross, an Aiken County Teacher.

Some board members left with questions.

“Are we ready from a technology standpoint? You touched on it, but do we have what we need?” said Brian Silas, District 3 Board Member.

“If we were to do what we’re proposing, and I’m not against that, but if we were to do it, what are we taking off their plates? Because really, we’re not asking them to flip a switch on their computer,” said Barry Moulton, District 5 Board Member.

Others are passionate saying they think teachers can get this done.

“I respect our teachers, we can’t do anything without our teachers, but teachers are not my priority. My priority is the kids,” said Dwight Smith, District 6 Board Member. “I just feel like there are ways we can make it work, and all I’m hearing is reasons why we can’t.”

But while some board members are ready to commit, others are worried if parents can step up to the plate when their kids at home too.

“If we’re going to have our teachers adjust and do “extra,” I think there has to be some commitment from the parent and students as well,” said Hanks.

But the board passed the plans for teachers to livestream their in-person classes for quarantining students to watch. So change is coming for students and teachers in the building and back at home.

This plan will be for 4th to 12th graders and those teachers will be receiving an additional $1,250 now as a thank you for taking on this task.

And parents heads up your kids will now be having an early dismissal the week of the 27th. The time will be used to get teachers trained on how to livestream and teach kids at home while they’re still back in the classroom.

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