Some demand ‘face to face’ as schools reopen online
By Bobby Bryant
You didn’t see buses, backpacks or crossing guards, but school resumed – or began to resume — Sept. 8 for Darlington County’s public-school students.
At least the first two weeks of the semester will be entirely online, district officials decided. As for how long that will continue, the county school board and school officials were set to make a decision Sept. 14.
“We are continuing to watch the numbers,” county Education Superintendent Tim Newman said last week. “As of Monday’s (Sept. 7) DHEC report, Darlington County is rated ‘high,’ which would seem to indicate that we continue with eLearning.
“But the trend shows a clear and regular decline in cases, which may indicate we can return to in-person school. We want to return to in-person learning as soon as safely possible to do so, and we hope this delay will allow us to gather more data to make the best decision.”
During his Sept. 11 weekly video chat with parents, Newman summed up the situation: “Working on that decision. Watching the numbers.”
“The board and myself feel strongly about gathering as much information as possible to make the best decision that we can make,” he added. “ … We have to consider everything.”
Meanwhile, some Darlington County parents are anxious to get their kids back in a traditional classroom setting, either full-time or part-time. On Sept. 8, when the DCSD announced that no decision had yet been made on how classes would be held after the initial two weeks of online-only courses running at least until Sept. 21, some parents flared on Facebook:
— “The kids need to be in school! We all voluntarily signed up for face to face because we feel that our kids need that interaction, whether it be classroom learning, or being able to have some sense of normalcy! The parents have already decided and voted! It’s time to let the kids back! Heck, every county around us, every private school in Hartsville, is all going F2F already, and have been for weeks! This is enough!”
— “It’s really sad that since I can’t afford private school for both my kids, they can’t go to school. Do those schools have some kind of Anti-Corona(virus)? Is it like fictitious vampires? It can only go inside places by invitation?”
— “We signed up for face to face; our children need face to face. Every other county has some form of F2F instruction but us; all private schools are open five days a week with no COVID cases. ‘No child left behind’? All of Darlington County is being left behind. My children do not retain info given over a computer or from myself. They need F2F and they need social interaction.”
— “Mask up and let’s go to school already! My kids can’t learn virtual.”
But many other parents indicated they were grateful for the DCSD’s caution. “With the child passing away in Columbia and another having heart side effects (who) lives near Hartsville and was hospitalized … Darlington County is the one county being smart in their decisions,” one wrote.