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Lancaster County School District offering virtual option, deadline to apply Friday

The district says 1,500 parents answered the survey assessing the need for a virtual program.
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 7:50 PM EDT
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LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - After a strong response from surveyed parents, the Lancaster County School District is now offering online learning for students.

This virtual program will be available for any student in kindergarten through 12th grade. The program will last through the current school year. Parents have been emailed an application to sign up for online school. Now keep in mind, there is a deadline to register. Parents have until noon tomorrow to make sure your child has a spot.

The district says 1,500 parents answered the survey assessing the need for a virtual program. Parents who sign their student up need to make sure their student wants to go virtual for the rest of the year, makes passing grades and sets up a workspace at home with internet.

At a special called meeting last month, the board discussed using the virtual option to cut down on positive COVID cases and quarantines.

Since the first week of school, the district’s quarantine numbers have not dropped lower than 1,000. The district superintendent told me some of the questions they asked and answered when it came to making this decision.

”What can we do different? What can we do different to mitigate the spread? What can we do different to protect our staff and students?” says Dr. Jonathan Phipps.

Class is back in session and for the first time in about two years Chloe Jacks is inside the classroom. She had been virtual because of COVID.

”A lot of people I know have gotten it before and they say it’s bad,” says Jacks. “I didn’t want to get exposed to it.”

Now Jacks comes here to Lancaster High every day, but if she had the choice in the beginning of the year to do virtual again.

”I would have because I just think it’s easier for me learning online,” he says.

Chloe now has a choice after Lancaster County Schools has opened a virtual learning option, but she will miss out because one of the classes she chose can’t be offered online.

”I was kind of upset because I’ve been doing it for like two years almost but I’m good with going to school now,” she says.

It might be too late for Jacks but Lancaster Schools virtual academy already has 400 students signed up. But there are already problems on the horizon.

”It works for some. It doesn’t work for a lot of kids,” says Phipps.

Even though Superintendent Jonathan Phipps was a vote for virtual, he is hoping last year’s troubles will not pop up this year. Some are already creeping up as Phipps says he is concerned about having enough teachers to staff these classes. There is nothing bigger than students entering virtual and falling too far behind.

”We learned some hard lessons last year,” he says. “We learned some hard lessons about virtual education.”

It is lessons they are already taking into this year. The school district hopes that setting some requirements this year, like passing grades, will keep some student from slipping through the virtual cracks.

”If we make it too easy for kids to sign up for virtual without having some guardrails up, it just won’t work, says Phipps.

Online students are still required to take state-required tests in person.

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