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S.C. charter schools help with e-learning amid COVID-19 crisis

State leaders looked to virtual campuses for guidance on developing plans for e-learning statewide, officials say.

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — South Carolina Charter Schools are public facilities that offer alternative forms of learning. 

They typically have a focus like science and technology or, in the case of The Cyber Academy of South Carolina, can be completely digital.

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"As long as you can access the internet, we're here and available to you," David Crook, who leads the school, said. "Hurricanes come on the east coast, we don't close for those. We don't have snow days. So, our infrastructure is just kind of built and ready for this."

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It's a unique advantage now that education has gone digital statewide -- a reality Crook says state leaders looked to his and other virtual campuses to assist with.

"We were able to just kind of put out some templates that we've been doing and share it throughout the state," Crook said. "It was really just a great time for us to kind of show what can be done in a virtual school."

Charter schools are public and have to follow the same guidelines as traditional schools during the crisis.

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Despite this, Cameron Runyan, the leader of the Charter Institute at Erskine which oversees the Cyber Academy along with more than a dozen other charters, believes they're uniquely equipped to overcome the current conditions.

"From an economic standpoint, from a flexibility standpoint, from an innovation standpoint, I certainly think charters are uniquely positioned in this new world that we live in," Runyan said. "Our virtual schools have not missed a beat.... They've really stepped into the gap and have helped to develop online capacity and training and knowledge with not only our other brick-and-mortar charter schools, but all the traditional schools across the state of South Carolina."

To learn more about the state's charter school program, visit the state Department of Education online.