By DEUCE NIVEN
Digital (computer) devices are being provided for students in grades 3-12 in the Horry County Schools as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state ordered closing of public schools.
In Columbus County, plans are being made for distance learning using digital devices starting April 6, if necessary, county schools spokesman Kelly Jones said Tuesday.
“If we are out longer than two weeks, we will move to all digital learning,” Jones said. “Today we’ve been training trainers who will be in the schools Wednesday to train the teachers.”
Student packets for this week were available Tuesday, and students will be on an early Spring Break next week, with no school work required.
“The rest of this week will be paper,” Jones said. “That work stops Friday.”
Students “will have the option to take a Personalized Digital Learning (PDL) device home (High School – laptop; Middle School – Chromebook; Elementary – iPad),” the Horry County School District said Tuesday.
“Additional information, such as how to grant parent permission to take a device home, how to pay an optional technology fee to offset costs if a device is damage while at home; appropriate internet use, etc. will be provided to students and parents by 6 p.m. Tuesday.”
Pick-up times for high schools and middle schools are from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday, 8 to 11 a.m. Friday.
Elementary school pick-up times for some, including Daisy and Loris Elementary schools, are the same as the high school times.
Pick-up times at other elementary schools, including Green Sea Floyds, are from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, and 1 to 4 p.m. Friday.
For the complete list and details visit here.
Students in the Columbus County Schools with Internet access and equipment already at home should have no trouble connecting with the appropriate on-line learning resources, Jones said.
“User name and passwords will be essential,” Jones said. “Schools will be reaching out with information on that.”
Parents without access to the Internet, believed to be involve about 20 percent of the students in the Columbus County Schools, should contact the principal, Jones said.
School leaders have already reached out to community leaders who may be able to provide Wi-Fi connectivity for students, including churches and other facilities. Each of the county’s public schools have Wi-Fi available to students in the school parking lots.
Columbus County’s public libraries also have Wi-Fi available in their parking lots, Library Director Morris Pridgen said.
Pridgen said he has received approval for a grant that will allow library patrols to check out mobile Internet “hot spots,” but that project has not rolled out, yet.
“I’m hoping that we can speed up that process,” Pridgen said, though there is no timetable on having those devices available, yet.
Food service update
Breakfast and lunch will be available to anyone 18 years of age and younger at each of the county schools through Wednesday, Jones said Tuesday.
On the first day of the meals program, the first day of the unprecedented state-wide school closing, more than 140 breakfast meals were served, 344 lunches, across the county, Jones said. On a typical school day those numbers would be “ten-fold higher,” Jones said.
As information about the availability of the meals seemed to spread, those numbers rose, with 389 breakfasts provided, 784 lunches.
Look for more on the local COVID-19 response as events warrant here and in the Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.