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Aiken County schools finish first day under new learning system

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 6:50 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Students and teachers in Aiken County have wrapped up their first day under a new learning system. Teachers are now instructing students inside their classrooms at the same time as kids at home in quarantine.

There was no doubt the Aiken County school district needed to get a plan going for how kids on quarantine are learning. For weeks, it’s had at least 4,000 students quarantined at home at any given time. But teachers say this new system comes with give and take.

“It’s just a lot right now,” said Sherry East.

East is president of the South Carolina Education Association and a longtime teacher. She’s been hearing from teachers across the state about teaching kids online and in person at the same time and in the same session.

“We’ve heard some horror stories of some things. You know, kids think it’s funny to show off some body parts, or to curse or to say things in the chat on Zoom. And so, while you’re trying to monitor the Zoom screen, you also could have a student doing something they shouldn’t do in the classroom,” she said.

Although she doesn’t think it’s a good long-term solution, she does have ideas on how to make it work.

“I think communication is key. Communication is key on three fronts, one, with the parents and the students who are quarantined. Like: What are the expectations when you are out?” she said.

Setting those expectations and not giving slack.

“So, we need to get that rigor back to the students to know, look, this does count. You are going to be graded on this. You are expected to do this work,” she said.

And she says for all the teachers putting in the extra work, that same commitment from students needs to be reciprocated.

We reached out to the district with a few questions Monday, one of them being if there are plans to change their mask policy anytime soon, as the State Department of Education has come out backing educators’ ability to require masks.

Changing that policy would likely reduce the number of close contacts and also lower the number of kids at home. We are still working to hear back on that and we will keep you updated.

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