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Sumter remote learning center sees fewer students as in-person classes increase

More seats were empty this week, as the district extends in-person learning and parents grow more comfortable with their children returning to class.
Credit: Kayland Hagwood
Student has lunch at M.H. Newton Family Life Center

SUMTER, S.C. — Fewer students are learning remotely at the M.H. Newton Family Life Center in Sumter as some return to in-person learning.

For many, this has been their routine since the start of the pandemic when the Sumter School District went virtual and families sought out a safe space for students while away at work.

But, more seats were empty this week, as the district extends in-person learning and parents grow more comfortable with their children returning to class.

RELATED: Sumter elementary students return for 4-day, in-person learning

“Over the past two months or so, as school has been beginning to open up more, more and more of our children are returning to school on a full-time basis,” Program Executive Director Barney Gadson said.

It’s a step closer to normalcy, but still many seats remain filled with virtual learners.

Credit: Kayland Hagwood
Student has lunch at M.H. Family Newton Life Center

“Some families are still reluctant of sending their kids back because of the numbers and the uncertainty,” Gadson said.

Lakecia Harris is a mentor at the center with two children attending the program.

RELATED: Sumter School District hosts first vaccination clinic for educators

Despite Sumter Schools expanding to five-day learning in the coming weeks, she said her kids will remain virtual.

“The environment here is less children; the population is smaller than at the schoolhouse, and I work here so I have more eyes on my children here,” Harris said. “As more people get the vaccine, I will feel comfortable.”

For now, she said she’s just thankful for a virtual option and hoping for a sense of normalcy soon.