Parents frustrated with McDuffie County School District’s at-home learning packet pick up


UPDATE (7:48 p.m., 03/17/2020) – Passing along the questions and concerns of parents in McDuffie County to the school officials there in regard to the school system’s first efforts at distributing learning packets for its students, WJBF did hear back from Dr. Mychele Rhodes, the superintendent of the McDuffie County School System.

When asked about the lack of assignments for multiple courses, Dr. Rhodes wrote, “We are working to replenish all materials as quickly as possible to assist parents in maintaining skills students have mastered.  Please recognize paper copies are for those without Internet access.”

Later, in a Facebook post placed online around 6 p.m., Tuesday night, McDuffie County Schools addressed the supplemental learning materials: “All of these review materials are intended to assist our families in maintaining their children’s skills during this extended closure. To ensure that no student is penalized, we will NOT be assessing them on assignments prior to their receiving direct instruction from their teachers. In the days ahead, our focus remains on the health and safety of our students, staff, and community.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Dr. Rhodes stressed the difficulty of the situation facing everyone, writing, “As we work through the ever-changing crisis with regard to the health and safety of our students, staff, and community, your understanding is appreciated as we navigate through the challenges ahead.”

The McDuffie County School District is trying to be proactive when it comes to keeping students on track during the mandatory break from school due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Resources for students will be listed on the school system webpage and Facebook.

You can find the MCSD digital learning resources here.

In addition, for students who may not have access to electronic resources, at-home learning packets are available at the entrance of each school beginning Tuesday, March 17.

However, when many parents and students showed up to grab their packets, they left with less than what they expected, and had trouble finding help.

“There’s no one here for guidance,” said Jay Collins, a father of two MCSD students. “The information was given out that there would be information packets for all classes. But I only found half for my ninth grader, and half for my 12th grader,” Collins continued.

News Channel 6 did not see any MCSD representative at Thomson Middle School, Thomson High School, or the MCSD office.

Many parents understand the bulk of the information can be found using the district’s online resources. But that isn’t an option for all families, including some who showed up to search through piles of folders in boxes at the school.

“On the table, no. Online, yes,” said Sante Green, a parent with two students enrolled in the district. “So it’s just a process of having internet access. And because I live outside of the city limits, it makes it harder for us to get free internet access,” Green added.

“Full digital would definitely work, but you know, some families don’t have access to the internet,” said Richard Weeks, who showed up to Thomson High School to grab packets for his younger sister. “I understand the whole physical copy, but I feel like they should have an adequate supply of it to meet the demand of the people that need it,” Weeks continued.

WJBF reached out to the McDuffie County School District office several times. They responded via email “as you can imagine – today is very busy.”

In a March 14 release the MCSD noted, “Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this unprecedented situation for our district, community, state and nation.”

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