Newman fears 10-14% of students ‘falling behind’
By Bobby Bryant
As many as 10-14 percent of Darlington County public-school students may be “falling behind” because they’re struggling with the online-learning system that’s been in use since Gov. Henry McMaster shut down all S.C. public schools because of the coronavirus crisis.
Darlington County Edu-cation Superintendent Tim Newman gave that estimate during the school board’s May 11 meeting, in which some board members came to the school district’s headquarters, some took part by phone and others joined in by video from their home computers. The public and press are still being excluded from school-board meetings because of COVID-19 concerns, but the meetings are live-streamed.
The district’s online-learning system, which has kept Darlington County public education going since the schools were closed in March, was a focus of some of the discussion last week. Board members praised the district’s technology chief, Diane Sigmon, for her leadership in launching the “classes by computer” system, but members also said they’d be glad to return to in-person education.
Board member Wanda Hassler asked Newman if the district had any numbers showing how well online learning was working. “Do we have a way to know what percentage of our students have been participating, and what percentage of kids have not been able to participate at all, for whatever reason?”
Newman said the district was working to get hard numbers on how many students have not been logging onto the system from home, and said officials have been trying to follow up by calling the students’ homes and, in some cases, sending school-resource officers to their homes to check on them.
“From my perspective,” Newman said, “it’s probably between 10 and 14 percent that I worry are falling behind.”
Hassler said the Darlington County School District “has certainly done as good a job as any district could under the circumstances. We were probably better prepared than most. I still think that we’ve got some huge (learning)