SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD)– Earlier this year, Juliette Coon made the decision to keep her first grade daughter, Lily, home for the school year.
“It is really hard, I try to hold back tears cause I felt that I did the right thing and it doesn’t come with an instruction book,” Coon said. “At that time I thought you know as a mom I made the right decision but [education] wise I made the wrong choice. She is ready to go back. She did not want to wear a mask and now she wants to. She says I can’t learn this way,” she continued.
The mother of three said she regrets the decision to commit to Dorchester District 2’s virtual program because her daughter is struggling to keep up.
“She actually came to me and told me she couldn’t learn and said the apps are giving her problems and sometimes she can’t get into the Zoom, so she misses things,” she said.
Most recently, the six year old’s Newington Elementary School teacher noted what Coon feared in a report sent home to parents.
“It said she was reading below grade level and that was really the last straw for me,” she said. “I wanted to figure out some way to help her,” she added.
Coon called the school and DD2, hoping to get Lily back in the classroom.
“I just got tired of being run around and being told there was nothing they could do. They weren’t trying anything, in my opinion, to try and help her and I had enough and wanted to see some change,” she said when asked why she contacted News 2.
District officials told News 2 changes mid-semester can’t happen and pointed to the virtual learning parent contract that asks for a full year commitment.
The Director of Virtual Academy Dr. Greg Harrison said the Virtual Academy requires the removal of teachers from traditional classrooms that in turn creates capacity issues.
“The number of students assigned to the in-school model has reached max capacity. Without moving virtual teachers back to the face to face model, classes in the f2f model would be overcrowded and negatively impact our ability to social distance.”
Dr. Greg Harrison
According to Harrison, 173 students have made requests to move from virtual learning to face to face instruction and about 85 students have requested being moved virtually.
He says the end of the semester is the soonest they can consider transfers.
“If a family requests a transfer back to brick and mortar instruction before or at the semester break (January), we will work for a mid-year transition, so long as appropriate space is available,” he said.
Coon responded, “To me, that is not good enough because I don’t know she can wait until January to switch because she is going to get more and more behind and she can’t wait for maybe.”
Harrison said all of the same interventions and procedures used in the in-person model are utilized in the virtual academy including parent communication, student conferences, parent-teacher conferences, tutoring, and small group instruction.