COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Tuesday, Governor Henry McMaster announced that all public schools across South Carolina will remain closed until the end of April, which means that by the time students head back to school in May, they will have been learning from home for more than six weeks.
Parents have now been teaching their children from home for the last week. Many parents said that it’s been a challenging experience to learn how to be a teacher and get their kids into a new school routine. Some added that the governor’s announcement that schools will remain closed for more than another month has left them with unanswered questions about what that means for the rest of this school year and their child’s learning development.
However, parents at Sandhills Elementary School said that it’s been easier with constant support and communication from their teachers through phone calls and email.
“We’re in this together and we’re going to get through this together,” Chelsea Starnes, a third-grade teacher at Sandhills Elementary said.
Students were greeted by a parade of teachers on Wednesday, following the school buses that were delivering lunches for their students.
“We want the parents to know what an amazing job they are doing stepping up to be teachers. Some of them, this is brand new for them and we just want them to know we believe in them and we love them, too, and we want our kids to know that we miss them and we can’t wait to be back together,” Angela Farris, a first- and second-grade teacher at Sandhills Elementary said.
The daily delivery of meals is just one of the many changes for students and parents, who are trying to get use to their new normal of school from home.
“I tell them it’s time to do school work now. You have to do school work and they’ll be like ‘Mommy, we have to go to school to do school work,’” Ciera Nelson, a parent at Sandhills Elementary said.
Many parents said they are adapting with their kids and picking up new skills as they go.
“I’m learning to teach, which I thought I wanted to do when I was in college, but now that I’m teaching I’m like, this may not be what I’m cut out for,” Amber Andrick, a parent at Sandhills Elementary, said.
“It’s been hard, but it’s also teaching me also because stuff they are learning, I need to learn,” Nelson said.
Students in some school districts have e-learning on laptops and tablets, while other school districts have been passing out paper packets for students to take home. Officials at Lexington School Dstrict 4 say they have a combination of the two, with paper packets being delivered to students that don’t have internet access.
“We’re getting a routine. I’m trying not to make it a too high-pressure thing,” Andrick said.
Amber Andrick said the new routine meant making the decision to stop working so that she could make sure her kids didn’t fall behind.
“He’s in second grade. It matters. it’s scary because rumors are what they are and people are saying different things...are they going to complete the year? Are they going to have to repeat the year? Are they going to go in the summer? And we don’t know and, as a parent it’s scary. You don’t want to see your kid have to stay a year or anything like that, but no one has a say in what happens right now,” Andrick said.
Teachers said they are worried that kids might fall behind, but that’s a concern they have all the time, whether kids are being taught in the classroom or at home.
“Of course we’re worried because they’re not going to have that same experience as they would in the classroom but it’s our job to make sure the learning is as authentic and purposeful as possible,” Starnes said.
Education Superintendent Molly Spearman has told parents not to stress about the at-home learning.
“Let this be a time to enjoy learning together, not a stress of ‘Oh my goodness, we’ve got to do another 30 minutes.’ No. Just do what you can and enjoy it with your children,” Spearman said.
Federal officials approved Spearman’s request to waive the standardized tests that students were set to take this spring.
In the joint statement made Tuesday by Superintendent Molly Spearman and Governor McMaster, they said if there is any way to safely open schools earlier, they will do that, but they must remain closed right now to protect everyone’s health and safety.