‘We’re upset:’ Horry County parents, students start virtual school with frustrations

Making The Grade

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – The first official day of virtual learning for Horry County students was Monday, but some parents are upset because they say their kids are not getting the same education as those going to classes in-person are getting.

Some of those parents say when they ask for help, the district is just passing the buck.

“We’re upset because our kids are not getting the same education that brick and mortar are getting,” said Debbie Plew Denley, mom of six kids learning virtually this year. “One elementary school child didn’t have a teacher or classes until Friday evening.”

Hannah Hamill, a mom of three learning virtually in the county, says teachers are telling her that one of her children is a week behind in assignments, even though the district said students would not be penalized if they couldn’t log in before September 14th.

“My oldest, who’s in high school, one of her teachers said she’s supposed to be on week two of learning starting this week. So she’s a week behind,” said Hamill. “It’s as if the school district doesn’t really know what’s going on.”

Denley says there’s been a lack of communication too.

“We would call, email the virtual help desk. It would take days for them to get back to us,” she said.

Denley says her kids won’t get to participate in classes like art or music that kids going in-person will.

“We were told by [the] district and principals that if we were to go virtual, before we signed up for virtual, if we were to go virtual, our kids would have the same classes and same choices as brick and mortar, and they’re not being offered the same education,” she said.

Horry County Schools sent News13 a statement, saying in part, that physical education classes will be added to kids’ schedules next semester and that other elective classes may be added in the near future.

Both Denley and Hamill say they didn’t know until the last minute that Gifted and Talented and MAP testing would have to be taken in-person, even though they opted for virtual learning.

“My son is elementary, and because, I guess, of his grade level, he has to go into the school regardless, and he’s the one with asthma,” said Hamill.

Ronald Denley says it’s not just parents and students being affected either.

“We have teachers that have 160 kids in virtual, and then they’re teaching at the brick and mortar too,” he said.

Statement from Horry County Schools

“The week of September 8 through 11 was identified as a week for teachers to contact virtual students and their families and to teach students how to use the online system.  During this week (Sept. 8-11), teachers contacted students on their rosters to discuss expectations with both students and parents.  Teachers also worked to make sure that students in their classes can properly log into their individual accounts as well as access their online content.  Last week, was dedicated to students’ learning the details of their classes and prepared students to begin navigating online content on September 14th.  This introductory week also provided staff time to make the appropriate adjustments to student placements and schedules and to work through any technical issues.” – Lisa Bourcier, Director of Strategic Communications, Horry County Schools

The district also tells News13 that middle school students are enrolled in four core classes through HCS Virtual this semester.

Physical Education, which is required by the state, will be added to student schedules second semester, and additional elective courses may be added in the near future, according to the HCS website.

Bourcier also says elementary virtual students do participate in PE, music and art on a quarterly basis.

The HCS website also says that Gifted and Talented classes are available for virtual students.

News13 previously reported on how the first introductory week went for virtual students and parents.

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