(WLTX, Greenville News) - Get out your laptops, kids. Snow days are getting dropped from the school calendar in four other school districts in South Carolina.
Anderson School District 5, Kershaw County, Pickens County and two districts in Spartanburg County will issue assignments on school-issued laptops this coming year whenever bad weather is in the forecast.
The laptop assignments are part of a larger pilot program for eLearning that the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee has green-lighted for five school districts this coming year. Anderson 5 was the first to be approved in June; another four were added at the EOC's August meeting on Monday.
Any eLearning days will count toward the 180 school days required by the state. In Kershaw County, a maximum of five eLearning days can be used as make-up days. However, they will be a bit shorter than the typical school day: five and half hours for kindergarten through eighth grade; and six hours for ninth grade through seniors.
Parents and staff will be notified through the district’s Powerschool Messenger system with phone calls and emails. However, Facebook and Twitter will also be implemented.
Assigned Chromebooks and laptops can be used to complete the assignments. While those without access to the Internet at home may download the assignments to their devices and work offline using systems such as Google Drive. Students will also have additional days to complete the work.
Kershaw County School District Superintendent Shane Robbins says they are working with teachers on how to create the virtual assignments, but sees no need to rush the program.
“The nice thing about the pilot program is that we have the time to get ready,” Robbins said. “We will work with our teachers and families to be sure that we are prepared. If we have inclement weather early in the school year before we are ready to implement the eLearning program, we will follow our traditional make up schedule. We will make sure that everyone feels comfortable and understands the procedures before we move forward.”
Bad weather creates uncertainty for schools, along with its staff and students, when it comes to vacation and low attendance — these districts hope to diminish that with eLearning days.
"This program provides us with flexibility so that students’ learning will not be disrupted, and families won’t have to change plans to make up days on the calendar missed for bad weather," Robbins said.
The district also plans to have a help desk running, with teachers on-call, ready to answer any questions parents and students may have.