CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Parents in Berkeley County are concerned about their kids returning to schools this fall.
Many feel they just don’t have enough information about the school district’s safety plans to make a sound decision about whether their kids should return for face to face instruction or one of the district’s virtual options.
More than 18,000 parents responded to a survey from the Berkeley County School District asking three questions: which type of instruction do you prefer for your child, do you have reliable internet access, and will your student need bus transportation.
The question regarding instruction delivery methods gave parents two options: face to face instruction or virtual.
The in-person option would have students participating in a traditional education setting within the building five days a week, while the virtual option would allow students to remotely access distant learning from home utilizing a learning management system five days a week.
Of the 18,341 total responses, 12,151 parents said they prefer face to face instruction for their child and 6,190 preferred virtual instruction.
“We all have to remember at the end of the day, the best decision for you to make is the one that is most right for your family,” Berkeley Co. parent Kirstin Tanner said.
About 66 percent of the parents who responded believe in-person instruction is the best way for their child to learn.
“I’m sending my kids back,” Berkeley Co. parent Amy Maffe said. “I have a 12-year-old that’s’ going into the 7th grade. I don’t feel she did very well with the e-learning, and I feel like it’s doing a disservice to kids like her that don’t thrive as well doing school that way.”
Other parents say they struggled to choose between in-person instruction and the virtual options.
“We had decided that we were going to keep them home no matter what just based on our ability,” Berkeley County parent Jamie Harris said. “But it is alarming even picking that option because we all felt, across all grade levels and across all the different schools, that the e-learning at the end of last school year was kind of a disaster and understandably so because it was thrown together so quickly. It left a lot to be desired, but I’m hopeful it will be better. This seems like a no-win option for everyone honestly.”
However, it seems to be the unanswered questions that worry parents most about the district’s safety measures.
“It’s best for our family to have them at school. It’s difficult having them home and trying to teach them and also work myself. However, what’s been rolled out recently, there aren’t a lot of details,” Berkeley County parent Jamie West said.
“With this being thrown together just so quickly, this decision being made so quickly, I don’t feel comfortable sending them into school,” Berkeley County parent Tracy Abels said.
Some students said they understand the complex decision behind each parent’s choice about how their child will be taught this fall.
“We believe that Berkeley County is doing everything they can, but again, I’m feeling a little uneasy because there’s so much stuff we would need to think of,” Berkeley County high school student Sarah Faulkner said.
Berkeley County School District officials said the survey showed them just how many parents are considering both options.
“One of the big takeaways from our survey is that we have a lot of parents that, for whatever reason, need their kids at school. And no, school is not a daycare, but we have a lot of families in need,” Berkeley County spokesman Brian Troutman said. “For those families, we are going to try to provide as safe an experience as possible.”
Other survey results showed 17,682 families have reliable internet at home, while 628 respondents said they do not.
More than 7,200 parents reported their student will need bus transportation, according to the survey.