MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCSC) - The Berkeley County School District is assuring families it will offer summer programs for students despite the governor’s order to close schools for the remainder of the school year.
Gov. Henry McMaster’s announcement to keep students home for the rest of the school year came at a Wednesday news conference. District leaders say they will continue to deliver virtual instruction to students learning at home until the conclusion of the academic year in June.
It is not yet clear whether kids can return to school buildings for summer programs, but district leaders say they are ready to offer virtual camps and learning sessions if everyone needs to stay home.
The district is planning a variety of summer camps that will include career and technical education classes, programs for art students, and sessions for students in the gifted and talented program, which is through the youth scholars program.
They will also be offering remedial learning camps for kids who may need some extra help with certain subjects. These will be offered to students after end of the year assessments from teachers.
The district says these assessments will be based on what teachers observed throughout the entire school year, not just since they have been doing online classes.
“Based on the fact that we’ve been out of school for this closure, and the fact that we know that there are some challenges of the parents who just are concerned in general that they are not as good of a teacher that their child’s teacher can be in person, they will have an opportunity to maybe request some additional help for their student, if they have any concerns,” District spokesperson Katie Tanner said.
BCSD officials say they have waved all other end of the year exams that are administered through the schools, other than these general assessments.
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, says that if some state standards from the previous school year need to be taught in better detail at the start of next school year, that is still an option.
BCSD says all AP and IB exams will be given virtually.
Berkeley County also wants seniors to know they are still working to figure out how to still give them a proper graduation.
"Our commitment is that we want it to be meaningful," Tanner said. "As long as we are able to, we want to deliver graduation in the best way possible, that they expect to have and that their families can be a part of, but of course we're going to have to consider social distancing guidelines, health and safety guidelines that are in place at the time, but we are optimistic that as we move into the summer, that we will have options available to us."
The district is currently considering the use of high school football fields for graduation because they are outdoors and give more space.
They are also considering the North Charleston Coliseum because it is less restrictive than school auditoriums or gyms.
No decisions on graduation have been made yet, as district officials say they are still waiting to see how things change as the summer approaches. Giving seniors a graduation is something the district is staying optimistic about.
“Knowing the disappointment they are feeling, and the loss that they’re feeling, them and their parents,” Tanner said. “Really a right of passage for your senior year and your graduation, you know those last events that happen in the final weeks of your senior year, and the fact that they’re going to lose a lot of that, or graduation parties and the time with their friends. And so one thing we don’t want them to lose is a meaningful graduation ceremony.”
District officials say knowing how much seniors are missing out on has been one of the most difficult parts of this closure for the district. BCSD is also discussing the possibility of a graduation ceremony later in the summer if possible.
More information on whether summer programs will happen in person or through virtual platforms is still being discussed as well.