• As the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) works to track cases of COVID-19 across the state, there is an understandable delay in reporting confirmed cases in public schools. Berkeley County School District is committed to providing stakeholders with accurate and timely information so the BCSD COVID-19 Case Dashboard has been updated to reflect the number of confirmed cases reported directly to Berkeley County School District. These numbers will be updated every business day to provide our community with a more accurate accounting of confirmed cases in Berkeley County schools.  

    The content of this database is general information for each location. Any necessary contact tracing is conducted by SCDHEC. This information is updated at the close of each business day. Please note the numbers provided are numbers of confirmed cases reported to the Berkeley County School District and are 14-day cumulative counts.

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  • At the regular meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday, October 27, the Board approved revisions to the Berkeley County School District (BCSD) instructional calendar to add four half-day virtual instructional program (VIP) days for students. Teachers will use the second half of those four days as workdays. 

    On these VIP days, students will be learning from home independently for half of the day. All student assignments will be loaded to Google Classroom and/or other learning management systems by 7 a.m.

    BCSD half-day VIP/teacher workdays

    • Thursday, November 12, 2020
    • Monday, December 7, 2020
    • Tuesday, December 22, 2020
    • Monday, May 10, 2021

    To further support students, each teacher will set office hours that are posted or will be posted in Google Classroom and/or other learning management systems.

    Much like the eLearning days of the 2019-20 school year, teachers will have the flexibility to use time not spent assisting students to work in their classrooms, with their teams or participate in personal professional development.

    Again, this is a remote learning day, and all students will be learning from home independently. 

    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your child's school. 

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  • Berkeley County School District’s (BCSD) learning pathways portal will open Monday, November 2 at 8:30 a.m. for families to begin making their final learning pathway update for the year. At the regular meeting of the Berkeley County Board of Education, Dr. Kelly Wulf, BCSD Chief Academic and Innovation Officer, presented the district’s plan to encourage and facilitate a return to the traditional classroom for blended distance learning students who need it most, while preserving choice for students and their families. 

    “We looked at courses for students who were failing and students with more than 10 days of absences to compare the traditional and distance blended learning pathways,” said Dr. Wulf. “Looking at that data, we have continued to be flexible and fluid in the decisions we have been making but are confident that providing the option for students to return to the traditional classroom is the best model we can provide.” 

    Even as the district encourages a return to the traditional classroom, especially for primary students and students who are struggling academically, families will still have the option for their student to remain in or transition to the distance blended learning pathway and select a reason to support that choice. If a student is currently enrolled in the traditional pathway or the virtual pathway (eligible students in grades 7-12), no pathway update is necessary.

    Primary and elementary students will have the choice to: 

    • Return to the traditional classroom on November 11, 2020 (First day of second nine weeks)
    • Return to the traditional classroom on January 4, 2021 (First day following winter break)
    • Remain in distance blended learning due to a medical need, hardship, to include extenuating circumstances, demonstrated academic progress or a personal reason offered as explanation by the parent or guardian
    • Transition to blended distance learning due to a medical need, hardship, to include extenuating circumstances, demonstrated academic progress or a personal reason offered as explanation by the parent or guardian

    Middle and high school students will have the choice to:

    • Return to the traditional classroom on November 11, 2020 (First day of second nine weeks)
    • Return to the traditional classroom on February 1, 2021 (First day of second semester)
    • Remain in distance blended learning due to a medical need, hardship, to include extenuating circumstances, or demonstrated academic progress or a personal reason offered as explanation by the parent or guardian
    • Transition to blended distance learning due to a medical need, hardship, to include extenuating circumstances, demonstrated academic progress or a personal reason offered as explanation by the parent or guardian

    District and school leaders recognize that many blended distance learners have been successful, and are supportive of parents and guardians retaining their choice to decide the best learning pathway for their child(ren). Plans presented before the Board on Tuesday night have been modified to best meet the needs of students and their families. 

    “We received feedback following Tuesday’s meeting requesting additional choice options for students in distance blended learning,” Dr. Wulf said. “In response to the feedback, we have expanded the choice options for parents who would like to keep their child in blended distance learning. Those options will be reflected in the learning pathways portal.”

    The learning pathways portal will close for primary and elementary requests at midnight on November 10. The portal will close for middle and high school requests at midnight on November 20. These dates were updated following the board presentation to allow more time for schools to adjust master schedules and plans for second semester. 

    “We have a responsibility to do what is best for children and modify our plans to meet their needs,” said BCSD Superintendent Dr. Eddie Ingram. “I applaud the Board for their support and willingness to shift, sometimes rather quickly, as we continue to support student learning during a pandemic.”  

    Parents and guardians should contact their child’s school if they need assistance accessing the learning pathways portal or if they need assistance determining the best path forward for their child beginning Monday, November 2.

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  • Berkeley County School District’s high school students continue to find ways to promote school spirit – even despite the pandemic.

    Many students so far have even said the pandemic resulted in even more unity and school spirit.

    Instead of dwelling on what they cannot do for the time being because of COVID-19, Stratford High’s Renaissance students are focusing their efforts on what they can do – from holding dress up days to highlighting student clubs and organizations each week.

    A new thing they are doing at the school this year is emphasizing individual student improvement through “Positive Referrals.”

     

    Promoting involvement

    Twelfth-graders Landry Walker, Zach Carter, Macy Glaton and 10th-grader Andrew Brackett are all part of Stratford High’s Renaissance group. Math teacher Meg Ward is the advisor for Renaissance.

    Renaissance members are student leaders who work on improving the culture at their school. Ward said connecting with students, teachers and staff has always been a huge part of what Renaissance does, but with the pandemic some things are just not possible.

    “Our goal is to remain as positive as possible and to continue to do as many things that we used to do as we can to maintain some familiarity to what we know as ’normal’ as we can,” Ward said. “Obviously some things have had to be adapted and or changed completely. “

    Renaissance students have decided to maintain their focus on culture, climate and connections in everything they do.

    Carter said he remembers Freshman Orientation really well, and said high school really does fly by; thus students were motivated to keep the momentum going.  

    “We really need to savor the good moments and all that,” he said.

    Glaton said she thinks their senior class has been really good about brainstorming ideas to make this a good school year. Typically Stratford High seniors start their school year off with the Senior Sunrise, when they gather to watch the sun rise on their first day of school, and then gather again at the end of the year for Senior Sunset to watch the sun “set” on their high school experience. These were traditions that started about two years ago.

    They did not get to have the Senior Sunrise this year, but senior leaders are hopeful to find another way to do it before the end of the school year, and still have the Senior Sunset event at the very end.

    “We’re going to try and make this our best year, even though we’re in a pandemic right now,” Glaton said.

    Walker said even with the restrictions, he does not feel any less connected with the school.

    “The school year’s different, but I don’t feel like I’m disconnected from the same people that I’ve classes with since sixth grade,” he said.

    The students said they think they’ve actually improved on keeping students connected online, particularly with blended distance learning (BDL) students. They have been getting more involved on social media, like Instagram, and have encouraged more communication among the student body for BLD and traditional learners.

    “If anything, information is getting spread a lot more, and…given out to a larger audience,” Brackett said.

    SHS student wearing a college t-shirt and mask while operating a camera

    BCSD photo / Monica Kreber

    Renaissance and Student Council students are working on a couple projects together, such as T-Shirt Tuesdays, encouraging students to wear a specific kind of t-shirt each Tuesday of the month (college, club shirts, sports, class colors, “throwbacks”). They have also collaborated on a Virtual Club Fair to introduce students to different extracurricular options they can participate in at Stratford.

    Student Council recently got students involved in a logo creation contest to update the school logo and offer an alternative to the “S”. They are also planning a Halloween Scavenger Hunt and are gearing up for Homecoming Spirit Week the first week of November.

    The school used to have a High-Five Friday but now it is Spirit Friday, where student leaders welcome students walking into school by blaring music, and make it a goal to try to remember students’ names as they greet them so everybody feels a sense of inclusion.

    Stratford High also recognizes students through Silver Knights, which is a weekly recognition, and Knight of the Month, where teachers nominate a student who they think has had an amazing month; those names are put into a generator and a student in each grade level is recognized by the school.

    Similarly, students also nominate any staff or faculty member for the school’s Staffulty of the Month recognition.

    Those personal touches are things the school is trying to continue with Positive Referrals.

     

    Celebrating improvement

    While the school has Silver Knights and Knights of the Month, Renaissance wanted to add a layer of recognition based more on character – especially those exhibiting what it means to be a Stratford Knight, Ward said.

    Typically if a student receives a referral it is not a good thing. However, Stratford High’s Positive Referrals recognize students who have made improvements – maybe they have raised their grades or have had better attendance in class.

    Ward said they really want to push for the students who would never expect to be recognized – to know that others see them, hear them and celebrate them.

    “We have so many great students in our school who deserve to be recognized,” Ward said.

    Other schools in the district do Positive Referrals, but the imitative is new to Stratford High this year.

    The Renaissance students said they want to recognize students on their academic achievements – not just high-flyers with straight A’s, but students who are demonstrating that they are putting in the effort to do better in school.

    Positive Referral students are selected by guidance counselors or administrators, and they receive prizes. The students are highlighted on the school’s Real TV program and their name goes up on a Positive Referral sheet.

    Ward said they are also looking for a business to sponsor the rewards through coupons or gift cards to local restaurants.

    As a Stratford graduate herself, Ward said she thinks in certain ways everyone is “UKnighted”, but there is an added challenge this year compared to previous years.

    “We are always looking for opportunities to unite our Stratford family and we are all doing the best we can under these circumstances,” she said.

    Carter said they are trying to focus on what they can do instead of thinking about what they cannot do.

    Some ideas came about before COVID-19, but after the pandemic hit, students were able to start focusing on those new plans.

    “I think it’s given us a lot of new, bright ideas…we’re trying to use it to our advantage,” Carter said.

    The students also hope the Positive Referrals will serve as an incentive for all students to do their best.

    They said they think this year was a bigger focus on morale and school spirit, especially because of the pandemic.

    “I think change was needed,” Glaton said. “I think this pushed ourselves to make change happen.

    “COVID is negative on everyone,” she added, “but I think this kind of put a positive side on us trying to change the culture of our school.”

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  • Zach Carter -- a football-kicking volunteer fireman and student body vice president at Stratford High School -- was probably headed to Palmetto Boys State this summer. After all, the prestigious youth program was sort of a family legacy.

    There was only one problem. Palmetto Boys State is the same week as the Cooperative Youth Tour and his fellow student council member, Spencer Condon, had been telling him about the great experience she had the previous summer when Berkeley Electric Cooperative selected her to join other students from across the nation on a four-day tour of Washington, D.C.

    “She was talking to me about the cooperative principles,” says Carter. “They align with my values. Cooperatives are a very personable, people-oriented organizations.”

    Carter chose to apply to Youth Tour and Berkeley Electric selected him as one of their 11 representatives. But both trips were canceled due to COVID-19. However, South Carolina’s students were given the opportunity to participate in the Virtual Youth Experience (VYE), a week-long web conference that allowed Carter and his peers to engage with the state leaders from the safety of their homes.

    “I was really down when I heard it was canceled,” Carter admits. “When I heard about the experience being virtual, I was a little apprehensive, but it really blew away my expectations. It was amazing. I didn’t know how much fun it was going to be, and I loved every aspect of it.”

    From June 19–26, Carter and 78 other students selected by their local cooperatives interacted with Gov. Henry McMaster, U.S. Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn, State Superintendent Molly Spearman and the state’s chief epidemiologist, Dr. Linda Bell.

    “My favorite speaker was Dr. Linda Bell,” says Carter, who wants to be a physician. “She is a very intelligent person that is leading our state through all of this.”

    Carter’s enthusiasm was one of the reasons why he was nominated by VYE’s adult advisors and then voted by his peers to be the South Carolina Youth Ambassador. He and Horry Electric’s Hannah Zincone will speak with co-op leadership from across the state about what the VYE has meant to them and their fellow students.

    “It was a wonderful experience and I really miss it,” says Carter. “I really want to thank Berkeley Electric and everyone who helped put it together.”

    NOTE: This article was provided by Berkeley Electric Cooperative and republished in its entirety with Berkeley Electric Cooperative's permission.

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  • The purpose of this site is to share information for parents to understand the different technologies being used for instruction as well as provide tips for troubleshooting when tech challenges arise.

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  • Christian Oman has a lot of interests – drawing, music, making sure his voice is heard as he cheers on his favorite hockey team.

    Those who really know him, and the special relationship he formed with his adoptive parents 13 years ago, know he is a familiar face at Stratford High, and know his family is a big advocate for childhood cancer awareness.

    Christian is 19 years old and currently finishing up some courses to complete his education track, but was able to walk with his Stratford High classmates when the class of 2020 graduated in June.

    Walking with the graduating class was a major milestone for Christian – doctors originally told his mother that he likely would not make it to graduation.

    Christian has had to deal with cancer, and the long-term effects of cancer treatment, for most of his life.

    With September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Christian and Susan share their journey, while one of his Berkeley County School District teachers logs in some bicycling miles to fundraise for pediatric cancer.

    Christian

    Susan Jager actually met Christian when he was first brought to MUSC Children’s Hospital, where she was ophthalmic technician, and he became one of her patients. He was 6 years old at the time.

    Christian was brought in from Myrtle Beach for emergency brain surgery after six months of vomiting and headaches, and he had already lost his sight from what turned out to be a brain tumor; medulloblastoma is a cancerous tumor that most commonly forms in the cerebellum, the bottom part of the brain located at the back of the skull that can also spread through the spine.

    Christian was in DSS care at that point. Susan recalled not knowing anything about this little boy who had just been brought in – “but I knew he was going to be mine, I couldn’t even explain it to you.”

    He went through chemotherapy and radiation for a year, and spent about four months in the hospital after the first brain surgery. About a year later, he was adopted by Susan and his now-dad, Eric Oman.

    She remembered visiting him in the hospital one Christmas, “and I felt God speak to me louder than anything and say, ‘This is the child I want you to have, and you need to do something about it.’”

    Over the next few years, Christian had multiple medical problems affiliated with the chemotherapy and radiation, including heart problems and developmental delays. He continues to take medication for these issues.

    Christian is legally blind – he can see somewhat through one eye. He also has to wear hearing aids.

    Four years ago, when he was starting high school, he had a reoccurrence of medulloblastoma and started having bad seizures, which had not previously been a problem. His legs would shake sometimes up to 12 hours, Susan said, and she took him multiple times to the emergency room. Doctors had trouble figuring out what was wrong until his brain tumor clinic nurse witnessed the shaking firsthand and said he needed to be admitted into the hospital. A neurologist diagnosed him with a neurological condition called myoclonus, and scans showed some questionable spots in the lining of his brain – “which was not good,” Susan said.

    Christian had “maxed out” on radiation treatment, meaning he could not have anymore radiation treatment, and if they did chemo he likely was not going to make it because of his body’s condition.

    Susan contacted places all over the country looking for somebody doing clinical trials in secondary medulloblastoma. She found one in Boston, but once that hospital received his records they gave similar answers – that Christian’s body was in such a fragile state that he couldn’t touch him.

    Christian continued to be in an out of the hospital for all sorts of neurological problems, having MRIs done every two months, for about a year – and it was amazing, Susan said, that he was alive.

    Then, after a year, they noticed the spots were showing up in different places in the brain again.

    At that point, all they could do was pray – and prayers came from around the world as well.

    “It was up to God at that point,” Susan said.

    One day, Susan got a call from his doctors; the spots were gone.

    “They were dumbfounded – they had no idea what was going on,” Susan said.

    Christian’s seizures were still getting worse. He went through a few more scans and the spots lessened and lessened – but doctors did not have an answer for the phenomenon.

    During Christian’s junior year, the last MRI revealed no more spots in neither his spine nor in the lining of his brain. He did have a tumor that had started growing in the area where he had the first tumor, but the other spots were gone.

    “We had so many people praying for a miracle for this child that I totally believe that that’s all it could have been,” she said.

    The tumor was so deep in the brain that doctors could not get to it – so today everyone is just keeping an eye on it.

    In March Christian had his ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt replaced (a medical device that relieves pressure on the brain caused by fluid). He has since had two other procedures including an embolization of the main artery in the head.

    Stratford High

    Despite three brain surgeries in the last five months, Christian is doing well – amazingly well, Susan said.

    He has been going to school as much as he can for the last couple of years. His nickname at school is “Speedy Gonzales”.

    “I’m usually speeding through the halls,” Christian said.

    Stratford High students have done a lot to show their classmate their support; last year they did an entire week of “Go Gold” for Christian, and Renaissance students did lots of fundraising for childhood cancer in his honor. There was a whole spread in the yearbook about it.

    Christian has gone to prom every year. The school’s student journalists have interviewed him about childhood cancer awareness as well as blindness and what he wanted his classmates to know about it.

    “Everybody knew him and a lot of the kids he had gone to middle school with and everybody kind of followed the story,” she said, adding, “They have been amazing – everybody there, the teachers, the principal, everybody…I have nothing but good things to say about that school. They have really tried to accommodate him in every way possible.”

    He was able to walk with Stratford High’s class of 2020 in June, but has some courses to complete on his certification track.

    Getting to walk with the class of 2020 was a major milestone for Christian – this is someone who was previously told he would not make it to graduation.

    “That was such a big deal for us,” she said, adding “I get a chill every time I tell that story.”

    Angela Katsilanos previously taught Christian at Stratford High (she is now at Boulder Bluff Elementary).

    "Despite having cancer, Christian Oman gives 100 percent in all of his classwork and participates in class actively. He wants to be in school and hates missing it," she said. "When absent due to his illness, he completes all of his assignments within days of returning back to school. He has a positive attitude towards his teachers and peers. He is an outstanding role model and never gives up."

    Christian likes math. He has a number of interests including music – he has tried to learn to play the piano and guitar. He taught himself a tune on the piano just by listening to it. His dream job would be to work with the LEGO company, or to become an illustrator.

    “I can draw mostly anything,” he said. “I can make a lot of characters and all that.”

    He stayed busy this summer doing virtual summer camp. With the ongoing pandemic he has missed hanging out with his friends but enjoys keeping in touch with them.

    He is a huge fan of the Charleston Stingrays hockey team – the team has had a jersey made for him, among other memorabilia like signed sticks and pucks. He is very anxious for hockey season to start back up and go back to games.

    “I beat on the glass so darn hard,” he said. “I think…everybody can hear me.”

    Bicycling challenge

    Cancer treatment can have difficult long-term effects on patients. In Christian’s case, it damaged his heart, his hearing, his thyroid – and more.

    However, he has done really well compared to other children.

    “It’s been a rough road, but he’s still here,” Susan said.

    Childhood cancer is something the family tries to advocate for by pointing out it is much more prevalent than one would think.

    Susan said the people they have met on their journey have really stepped up to do their part to help him or honor him.

    “Just the humanitarian side of it and what they’ve done just to bring awareness to this disease is amazing,” Susan said, adding she likes to think it’s part of God’s plan, that Christian will “get the word out” about childhood cancer. “For everything he has been through, this kid has such an amazing faith and amazing attitude. He doesn’t let anything stop him.”

    Michelle Howard is a teacher for the visually impaired in Berkeley County School District. She has taught Christian for the last six years.

    Howard is currently participating in the Great Cycle Challenge (GCC) to fight children’s cancer. Anything she raises will support the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

    Howard’s goal is to ride 350 miles on her bike throughout the month of September and raise $2,500. As of Sept. 15, she has ridden 118 miles and raised about $949.

    She is riding in tribute to Christian. Hers and Christian’s photos have been featured in Times Square in New York on “Tribute Day” (Aug. 19), which is held each year in Times Square; GCC posts the pictures of riders and the people they are riding in honor of for the entire day on the Times Square billboard.

    This is Howard’s second year riding for GCC to raise funds and awareness for Children’s Cancer.

    “Bicycling is a hobby that I enjoy doing and therefore I thought if I was going to ride my bike anyway, why not ride it for a good cause,” she said.

    Howard said fundraising through GCC is easy; the organization gives the riders templates to follow for e-mails and communication. The riders can link their fundraising pages with their Facebook pages to ask family and friends for donations as well. 

    Howard has been trying to stress how common childhood cancer actually is to those who visit her fundraising page. More than 15,700 American children are diagnosed with cancer every year; 38 children die every week from cancer.

    Riders with GCC are riding to give these children the brighter futures they deserve.

    “The thing that stands out the most to me about Christian is that even though he's been through all he's been through with the multiple surgeries and all of the implications from surgeries and cancer treatments is that he's still so positive and upbeat,” Howard said.

    People can help a number of ways: donating to GCC and then getting on their bikes and raising awareness by informing other people about GCC and childhood cancer.

    Direct donations can be made on Howard's fundraising page.

    photo of times square with christian's photo on display   photo of times square with michelle howard's photo on display

    BCSD photo / Monica Kreber : Christian Oman (left photo, top left square) and Michelle Howard (right photo, bottom right square) on display in Times Square.

    Continuing forward

    Christian and Susan have formed so many special relationships with the people they’ve met along the way – the doctors and nurses, his teachers, members of numerous cancer organizations.

    Christian’s message to other children who are facing cancer: “You’re not alone.”

    Susan piggybacked off of that, encouraging families to “keep the faith” and let others help if they offer.

    “There’s so many people out there that want to do something, and don’t know what to do, and that was the biggest gift we got…all the love and the help that we got from everybody,” she said.

    Susan is certain that there is something amazing her son is supposed to do – “we’ll see what it is.”

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