FLORENCE, S.C. — Pet beds were the topic of conversation in one classroom at All Saints Episcopal Day School Friday afternoon.
On the second floor of the school, fourth-grader Josh Warren was demonstrating his business plan to sell heated and cooled pet beds he calls Cozy Pets. He was speaking via Zoom to the other fourth-graders in Susen Hiller's class.
Hiller explained to four visitors arriving around noon that she had just agreed to purchase two of the beds using a website address Josh created for the project. He also displayed a brochure complete with a website address.
Josh is one of about 30 All Saints students currently using the school's distance learning program, called modified distance learning. The school also offers a five-day-a-week in-person instruction option. This option was chosen by most of the school's parents.
Modified distance learning, as explained by Associate Head of School Ashley Stokes, means that one or a few students in a classroom are learning remotely. She said this is opposed to full distance learning, which would be if the entire school was learning remotely.
Stokes said the number of students learning remotely has fluctuated throughout the year. She said it was as high as 60 right after Christmas. Stokes also added that nine students have signed up to learn remotely throughout the year.
Melissa Jordan, communications director for the 2K- sixth-grade school on Cherokee Road, said that after schools were closed in March 2020 to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the school went to work to develop a a plan to start the 2020-2021 school year.
The plan included new technology like a 1:1 initiative to make sure each child attending the school from kindergarten to sixth grade had an electronic device available, webcams for each classroom so that students learning remotely could watch their teachers if need be, and a document camera that allows teachers to display a document to their students without having to pass it around.
Stokes said the document camera was very handy for children learning to write letters or in cursive because they can see the grip and movements the teacher uses to make a certain letter.
Also, each of the teachers at the school participated in Google for Education training to learn more about distance learning.
All of the development seems to be paying off for the school.
Stokes reported Friday afternoon that the school's students had not suffered a drop in skill level that has been associated with distance learning at other schools.
She implied that one of the reasons for this is the school's small classroom sizes — a 4K class had 10 boys — that allows the teachers to get to know their students and understand how to make them learn.