Marlboro Co. School District has 950 families opt for ‘virtual academy’ in just one week

Pee Dee

MARLBORO CO, SC (WBTW) — News13’s Meghan Miller recently spoke with Dr. Gregory McCord, Marlboro County Superintendent, about what measures the district is planning on taking to ensure safety for the upcoming school year.

The district will require everyone to wear a mask upon entering a school. They will not require temperature checks due to possible device malfunctions. The school buildings have been professionally sanitized and the staff is regularly cleaning.

The school district is also implementing a virtual program called the ‘Virtual Academy’ in an effort to accommodate families that would prefer their student(s) to have a full-time virtual option. Dr. McCord said that about 950 families have opted for the ‘Virtual Academy’ after just a week of registration.

Dr. McCord said that the ‘Virtual Academy’ will differ from the remote learning used during the spring. Students will be able to interact with their teachers in real-time, something the district’s prior remote learning platform lacked.

Dr. McCord also mentioned ‘another variation’ of learning, but did not say what it was. Although, he did say it would be pleasing to families as well.

Marlboro County School District surveyed the community asking if the public would be comfortable sending their students back to full-time learning. 47% of people surveyed were not comfortable sending their children in August.

Dr. McCord also touched on internet connectivity problems that some Marlboro County residents face. He said that the county is what he would call ‘rural,’ so connectivity is not going to be the same as larger metropolitan areas. The district has sought out help from local internet providers to help with the issue, helping to place hotspots in certain areas across the country. Dr. McCord also mentioned buses with hotspots on them that students can park next to connect.

Dr. McCord does not think that it is possible to maintain a normal bus schedule only allowing 50% capacity. The district is facing a bus driver shortage and the average bus route in the county takes about 90-95 minutes to complete. Dr. McCord estimates that students can possibly spend up to 3 hours on a bus at 50% capacity, decreasing the students’ moods spending that much time stuck on a bus.

Dr. McCord says that the district is looking for a better solution to the bus issue.

When asked if the district has enough staff to accommodate virtual learning, Dr. McCord is unsure. He says that the district does not know where they are as far as if they are going to virtually learn or not. If a teacher tests positive, it would be difficult to staff a building with substitutes for a couple of days, let alone for two weeks.

Dr. McCord also stated that most teachers and staff are not comfortable coming back to in-person learning, saying its about a 2:1 ratio.

In the case of a teacher or student testing positive, the district will be professional and respect HIPAA laws for patient confidentiality. The district will inform students or staff that they could have come into contact with the individual and that they should get checked.

You can keep up with Marlboro County School District’s plans on their website or their mobile app.

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