Marion County School District preparing for Virtual Academy

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MARION, S.C. (WBTW) – Marion County School District will begin both their remote learning and virtual academy on September 8. The district put out the following statement in response to the high number of virtual applicants:

The Marion County School District has had an overwhelming response for the Marion Virtual Academy (MVA). Many Families have chosen to attend the MVA and committed to a full year of learning using this model, while others have opted to stay in the traditional setting which will open with remote learning in place until DHEC statistics indicate a decrease in risk for our county. Families that want to transfer at the semester break in January will be considered if room is available in the traditional model but, there is no guarantee. For staffing and scheduling purposes decisions will be final as of Thursday, August 13, 2020, at noon. After this deadline, the district will not allow transitioning between the two models.

Marion County School District has about 4,400 students and nearly 2,100 applied for virtual academy. That comes out to a total of 48% of the student body who applied.

Towanda Gilchrist told News13 that though she has to now juggle her own work schedule and make sure that her two kids stay on a set schedule, Marion Virtual Academy is the safest option right now.

“Well actually my living room is a learning center now,” Gilchrist says.

Gilchrist is a single parent to a 7th grader and 12th grader. She says she worried about her kids not receiving the same education as face-to-face instruction but knew that safety was top priority.

“We don’t want it to get any worse than it already is now because you see like some places kids went back to school and people ended up with the virus so we want to keep everyone safe and the parents should continue to try to stay involved with the schools to see where everything stands,” Gilchrist says.

Melonie Gordon, Officer of Accountability and Instructional Technology, says with 48% of the student body applied for Marion Virtual Academy they are taking steps to make sure everyone involved is ready.

“We’re providing devices for all of the students who will participate in the virtual academy. We’re also planning orientation events so that we can make sure that they are able to use the laptops,” Gordon says.

Gilchrist says she knows her kids miss socializing with their friends so she tries to incorporate outdoor activities for them, but she says it’s important to keep that open communication with your kids and their teachers during this time.

“Don’t give up on your kids. I know that it’s a lot that’s going on, but I’ve also seen a lot of parents that have no idea with what’s going on and they can still learn with this virtual academy but you’re going to have to help them.” Gilchrist says.

Gordon says the district is working towards finalizing the list of virtual applicants and the schools will then reach out to parents to let them know of their next steps.

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