Aiken Co. parent voicing concerns over education for students in hands-on programs


AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — Many Aiken County School District parents voicing their concerns over learning models to school calendars.

Shawn spoke with one parent about the concerns he has for his son who he says is losing his education right before his eyes.

“It’ll just be a dumbed-down degree,” Andrew McCaskill told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.

Andrew McCaskill is not mincing words when it comes to his son’s future. His rising junior at Aiken High School wants to become a professional chef. “And one cannot do culinary arts unless one actually does it. It’s not, it’s not like you get to just read and, and do it it’s more show and tell,” he said.

The father of three hoped for a five day a week schedule for students — at least those in hands-on programs. “I don’t have a commercial grade, deep fryer at my house. I don’t have a convection oven at my house. I don’t have a bread mixer at my house. I don’t have the money to run out and buy $2,000 worth of kitchen equipment. So how, how is [virtual learning] benefiting my son? “

Aiken County Schools is one of 36 districts to have their reopening plan approved by state officials. A breakdown of its plan shows both hybrid and fully virtual options with plans to ease students back into a traditional learning environment if it’s safe.

Elementary school students will return to traditional five day a week learning after Labor Day, pending the spread of COVID-19. Middle and high school students will return back to five days a week instruction only when everyone can return safely to school.

McCaskill also one of many who wanted a solid, concrete plan for the upcoming school calendar to somehow plan out the year of the pandemic.

“I think they should pull some of the holidays for an abbreviated schedule,” he added.

“This is an emergency situation and I think some sacrifices have to be made and if we can squeeze out a few more hours through the year for direct instruction. I think that’s a good idea,” Aiken County Superientent King Laurence said at a recent Board of Education meeting.

“I’d like to try to maintain as much as we can with the calendar which was my biggest concern with doing a two-week extension. My opinion is we probably need to go after November Master’s Week first,” Boardmember Jason Crane said.

Officials worked three different plans for the 2020-2021 school year. With several adjustments made through motions, we now know some of the changes are:

  • School will start August 31
  • Labor Day will be a school day
  • There will be no fall break during Masters Week.
  • Thanksgiving holiday break has been shortened by one day
  • Last day of classes has been moved back to June 11.

For McCaskill, he says that he’s fine with the changes to the schedule but he is still hoping for even better options for his son. “I’m not saying that everybody has to go to school, but for those of us who want our children or need our children to have that in order to graduate, it needs to be a viable option,” he said.

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