DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - In light of school starting back next month, Dorchester District Two is creating a district task force for help with COVID related challenges.
As COVID-19 numbers continue to change, the district has said six subcommittees are meeting weekly to address all areas of school and district operations. The DD2 Public Information Officer, Pat Raynor, says this is so everyone can hear each others perspectives for operational guideline planning.
The subcommittees are broken up into Teaching and Learning, Health and Safety, Technology, Operations, Communications and Social Emotional Learning, Raynor says. These different committees each have about 15 to 20 people, made up of principals, parents, teachers, students and other district staff.
Raynor says they received over 15,000 parent responses from surveys that were sent out last week.
According to their results, 71 percent of those who responded prefer a student learning model that is face-to-face instruction and a combination of in person and virtual learning, while 24.5 percent prefer a fully virtual model through the school district.
Raynor says they will offer a Virtual Academy, taught by the same DD2 teachers, for students in grades K-12 whose families would like full virtual instruction.
They also asked parents if they would feel comfortable with things like sending their kids on buses. According to Raynor, plans are to have them run at 50 percent capacity to enforce physical distancing.
DD2 says these subcommittees are currently working on plans for how to keep students 6-feet apart at all possible times, how to reduce capacity in schools, and how to keep traffic flow all one-way in school buildings.
This will also be the first semester that all students in DD2 will have a computer or laptop. Pre-K through first grade will have iPads, and the second graders through 12th grade will have laptops.
Raynor says these devices have already been purchased and will be distributed to students immediately when they come back to school.
Take-home technology was already planned to come before the pandemic but, “[This] will be even more critical for our instructional program than ever before,” Raynor said.
DD2 wants to be clear that virtual learning will be dramatically different from the emergency online learning implemented in the sudden closure because of COVID-19. That's why they have different task forces meeting to come up with better planning for each area of curriculum.
DD2 says they hope to release a full plan for how the school year will operate within the next two or three weeks.
They say this is of course subject to change based on changes with the Coronavirus.