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Q&A: How to navigate reopening of Horry County Schools amid coronavirus

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Horry County Schools office

Horry County Schools reopened Sept. 8 with its hybrid instructional option. Horry County Schools/Provided

Many questions surround how the first days of a new academic year will look as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact Horry County, and beyond.

Horry County Schools’ brick-and-mortar schools will begin the new year Sept. 8, with instruction beginning with its hybrid program.

The Post and Courier has compiled a Q&A for parents, guardians and students to provide information ahead of the first day of school.

How long will students in brick-and-mortar schools be in the hybrid phase? When does the district plan to reassess if the instructional plan will change?

HCS plans to reassess instructional plans as the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control releases its disease activity reports. HCS leaders have said the district will make a decision two weeks in advance of any instructional changes. The latest DHEC report shows Horry County is considered a medium-spread county for the coronavirus.

What are the district’s instructional plans?

The HCS Board of Education approved two instructional plans: Instructional Option 1 is a hybrid option and Instructional Option 2 is HCS Virtual, a totally virtual program. Instructional Option 1 is based upon DHEC’s disease activity report, ranking counties as high, medium or low spread for the virus. "High spread" means Horry County Schools will operate remotely, "medium spread" will mean a hybrid learning plan, with students going to school for two days per week, and "low spread" will allow face-to-face learning five days per week.

How will students be graded this year?

Elementary students will have their own grading system and middle and high school students will operate with another scale, according to HCS. Elementary schools will use the following term weights and minimum number of assignments: practice grades — 50 percent with a minimum of 5 assignments; mid-level grades — 30 percent with a minimum of 3 assignments; and summative grades — 2 percent with a minimum of 2 assignments.

Middle and high schools will use the following term weights and minimum number of assignments in each category: high grades — 50 percent with a minimum of 3 assignments; mid-level grades — 30 percent with a minimum of 6 assignments; and practice grades — 20 percent with a minimum of 6 assignments.

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Term weighting for virtual classes will follow the HCS Virtual grading practices, according to the district.

HCS said there will be final exams for all classes receiving high school credit.

Will students have access to devices and Wi-Fi through HCS?

Yes. Each HCS student will have access to a “personalized learning device.” Elementary students will have access to iPads, middle school students will have Chromebooks and high school students will have laptops, according to HCS.

The device pickup is underway at HCS schools.

Will HCS provide meals for students enrolled in brick-and-mortar instruction and HCS Virtual?

Student meals will be available for brick-and-mortar students. Grab-and-go meals will be available for students who are attending distance-learning days and who are enrolled in the virtual program. A pickup schedule is currently being finalized, said HCS Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier.

What is the best way parents and guardians can stay in contact with teachers?

Parents can stay involved with students’ progress and contact teachers by logging in to PowerSchool to view daily grades. It’s also the location where students were to learn their class schedules and teacher assignments by 5 p.m. Sept. 2.

“In PowerSchool, an email address is provided for each teacher who is assigned to a student so parents can reach out directly to their child’s teacher(s),” Bourcier said. “Each school has their own website and social media channels where they share school-level information with students and parents. ParentLink is our mass notification system. Parents will receive district-level and school-level information by email and/or phone calls. We ask that parents keep their contact information current so we can reach them.”

Reach Hannah Strong at 843-277-4687. Follow her on Twitter @HannahLStrong.

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