It is just a few weeks into the new school year and severe weather has already caused Lowcountry students to miss class.
But this year, Berkeley County students have a new way to make up for missed instructional time.
The Berkeley County School District is one of 10 school districts approved for the second phase of a S.C. Department of Education eLearning pilot. The program is designed for students to remotely make up days missed for inclement weather.
Hurricane Dorian caused Berkeley to close all schools Tuesday through Friday. They will open as normal on Monday.
District spokesperson Katie Tanner emphasized that missed school work is not made up during the storm. Instead, students will work from home on designated instructional makeup days.
Teachers will report to school as normal and communicate virtually or by phone to support students who are working from home. The district's technology office will also be prepared to offer virtual support.
The first severe weather makeup day is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 25. Other scheduled makeup days are March 13 and April 10.
The pilot is made possible through various technology advances the district has made over the years.
"If we didn’t have the equipment in place, if our students didn’t have access to the Chromebooks and other technology, this wouldn’t be possible,” said Diane Driggers, the district's chief information and technology officer.
"The fact that we are at a point where we have 36,000 Chromebooks and all teachers have laptops, really makes all our efforts come together,” she said.
This is the fourth year that Berkeley students have had access to Chromebooks.
Accommodations will be made for primary-age students and students without internet access.
Students will have three days to make up work if they are unable to complete assignments on the designated eLearning day. If work is not completed in that 3-day period, the student will be marked absent.
More than 20 districts applied to be a part of the pilot's second year.
Last year, Anderson 5, Kershaw, Pickens, Spartanburg 1 and Spartanburg 7 districts participated.
In addition to Berkeley County, nine other districts were selected to join the program this year: Anderson 1, Anderson 2, Anderson 3, Florence 1, Georgetown, Lexington 2, Lexington 3, York 2, and York 3.
The state Education Oversight Committee will provide recommendations for how the program can be implemented statewide by June 1 to the governor, the General Assembly, the Department of Education and to the State Board of Education.
The district will post more information about the pilot throughout the year.
According to state law, South Carolina’s school districts are required to plan for 180 instructional days and three days that can be used for make-up days in case of bad weather.