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What will flexible learning model mean for Aiken County students?

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 11:14 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Aiken County Public Schools came up with a new flexible plan Tuesday night at the board meeting.

The district will remain on the current model for the new semester, which includes hybrid learning for middle and high schoolers, and four days of face-face-face instruction for elementary students.

The board decided to keep its current hybrid model with one big change: Superintendent King Lawrence will be able to change learning models on a school-by-school basis as he sees fit. This will go in effect in 4½ weeks.

But before the decision came down, staff and students expressed concern about changing models.

“As you know, high schoolers, they are going to go out and party. That’s not personally who I am but trying to keep 1,200 high schoolers home is not going to happen,” one Aiken County student said during the meeting. “They are going to give it to our teachers, our educators who we try so hard to protect,”

There were also concerns over what seems like an un-ending pattern of back in forth between learning models.

“We do a disservice to our students, and quite frankly, our faculty when shifting too often between models, too,” said Carina McGee, an Aiken High School teacher. “Our efforts to build a plane while we fly it are undermined when you suddenly change the blueprints, and turn around, and tell us we’re not good enough.”

Many are still upset with the district’s decisions to make changes to the model this past year.

“Y’all had the nerve to send us back face-to-face for what we’re obviously political reasons and parent pressure. For those who are willing to endanger the lives and health of teachers to achieve political ends, I say shame on you, and you deserve the teacher shortage crisis that you get,” said Cheri Watkins, an Aiken Scholars Academy teacher, said.

And despite discussions about the toll online schooling possibly has on a student’s education, the board decided to ere on the side of safety and the hybrid model still stands.

“We’re in a very tough position, and we’re doing the best we can,” school board member Barry Moulton said.

It’s a decision, like many this year, that didn’t come easy, and superintendent Lawrence will be able to call the shots on what models individual schools will take on as early as February.

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