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State OKs Orangeburg virtual school; other programs around S.C. also approved
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State OKs Orangeburg virtual school; other programs around S.C. also approved

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The State Board of Education approved 33 school district virtual learning programs for the 2021-2022 school year, including the Orangeburg County School District’s program.

The approved programs met enrollment criteria established by the South Carolina General Assembly and guidelines established by the State Board of Education that were derived from similar regulations pertaining to virtual charter schools.

“While all South Carolina schools are rightly prioritizing full, in-person instruction this upcoming school year, we know families in some communities were able to successfully navigate virtual learning and would like the option to continue,” State Board of Education Chair Dr. Kristi Woodall said. “The districts whose programs were approved have demonstrated that they are able to meet the high expectations that we have set for virtual instruction and student participation.”

Orangeburg County School District reports 95% of its students will be returning to five days a week of in-person instruction. Also, 289 students have currently been accepted into Orangeburg Online, its 100% virtual learning model.

Orangeburg County’s program is described as a, “full-time, virtual learning program serving grades PK-9. Direct synchronous instruction provided through Microsoft Teams following the same schedule and expectations as in-person learning.” Orangeburg Online will not include 10-12th grades. 

South Carolina’s full-time virtual learning programs were required to meet the following guidelines:

• At least 25 percent of the instruction must be through synchronous instructional opportunities.

• Each course must be taught by a teacher holding a valid S.C. teaching certificate for the course(s) being taught virtually.

• Provide for frequent, ongoing monitoring of an individual student’s program to verify each student is participating in the program.

• Include proctored assessments for core subjects per semester that are graded or evaluated by the teacher.

• Conduct required state assessments for all students following testing requirements.

• Conduct at least bi-weekly parent-teacher contact in person, electronically, or by telephone.

• Provide for a method to define and verify student attendance.

• Provide for verification of ongoing student progress and performance in each course as documented by assessments and examples of coursework.

• Participate annually in a program review conducted by the South Carolina Department of Education.

Additionally, the General Assembly in the 2021–22 General Appropriations Bill, included a proviso that capped traditional school district virtual enrollment at 5 percent of the district's total student population.

Parents looking for virtual options can enroll in VirtualSC, a free, state-sponsored online program serving students currently attending public, private and home schools in grades 7-12 and Adult Education Programs. South Carolina is also home to six free online virtual charter schools that are available to students and their families statewide.

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