FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence One Schools will be part of the second year of an eLearning pilot program to eliminate makeup school days from inclement weather.
The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) announced this week that Florence One Schools is one of 10 school districts that will join the eLearning pilot program. Originally, five districts took part in the eLearning program.
The eLearning Pilot program allows districts to complete a school day using technology from home in the case that schools are closed.
“For me, eLearning days maximize learning during crucial times of the school year when learning can be disrupted,” said Richard O’Malley, the superintendent of Florence One Schools. “I believe the opportunity for growth and increased student achievement is far greater on these inclement weather days than it is when schools take on makeup days at the end of the year or away from planned days off.”
The district will have three eLearning days available to use during the 2019-20 school year if school is canceled for any reason during the school year and conditions are favorable. If weather conditions are not favorable, the decision for eLearning days will be left to the superintendent.
O’Malley said the days could be used during the days leading up to a hurricane when schools are closed, waiting for the storm to come onshore.
The school district will use the district app and website, social media platforms, a press release and parent notification phone calls to inform parents of when eLearning days will be used, according to the district’s application to the program.
O’Malley said being accepted to the eLearning program shows how far the district has come with technology in the past year.
In November 2018, Florence One Schools implemented the Imagine Forward initiative, which provided all students in third through fifth grades a technology device. In January, the school district brought second and sixth grades into the initiative. Starting this fall, all students will have a technology device in the district.
“We’ve tried to design our curriculum using technology as the vehicle, so this is an easy output for those decisions,” O’Malley said.
When using an eLearning day, students will be able to access their assignments using Google Classroom, a learning management system. Students’ textbooks are also available online.
Students will have five days to make up missed work on assignments during the eLearning days.
According Kyle Jones, the technology director for the district, 95 percent of students have internet access at home for eLearning days, and the district is looking at opportunities and partnerships to close the gap.
Florence One Schools and 23 other districts applied to the program this year, and the original five districts judged the applicants anonymously. The original districts will mentor the 10 new districts.
Melanie Barton, the executive director of the EOC, said districts were judged on students’ access to technology, district’s learning management systems and district’s use of online learning in the classroom.
Florence One Schools had the highest overall number of points, as well as the highest average number of points, on their application, according to Barton.