PENDLETON, SC (WSPA)–If your child is tired of doing virtual learning at home, you might like Clemson University’s new Outdoor Lab Academy. The new program is set to start on Monday.
The University is mixing online learning with nature and fun activities for school-aged children to enjoy while learning.
Starting next week, students will fill Clemson’s 88 acre Outdoor Lab in Pendleton, and it’s not for a retreat or summer camp.
“We’re starting the Outdoor Lab Academy, which serves kids in K5 through 8th grade who are in virtual learning,” said Leslie Conrad, Director of Clemson Outdoor Lab.
Instead of being at home, students can choose to learn in nature two days a week or five days. Parents can also decide between a half or a full day.
“The program was developed to serve a need, which had been evident with parents who were trying to work and help their kids with virtual school. And give parents the flexibility of a safe place where their kids can go during that school time,” Conrad said.
Pavilions, outdoor patios, hammocks, and cabins will be virtual homes for students. Although there will only be up to 30 kids at the facility at a time, some parents in the area are still worried.
“Because of covid-19 you have a higher chance of kids getting sick. It is a good idea, just not right now,” said Destinee Loveland, parent.
Those in charge said they will follow the same safety guidelines as Clemson University and schools’ in-person classes. They have safety protocols in place, along with tons of cleaning supplies.
“Even when we can’t physically distance then we have masks on. If we’re indoors we have masks on,” Conrad said.
Students will spend a lot of time socially distanced outside enjoying activities like canoeing, thunder ball, basketball, and other fun recreational activities. The school said it’s a creative way to keep kids on track with assignments and connect socially with their peers.
“We will have opportunities for them to play mostly outdoors. This is a great environment for kids to run around and be very distanced from other kids,” Conrad said.
“If it’s spread out, that would be okay,” Loveland added.
In December, Clemson University will assess the program to see if they will continue it in the spring. However, leaders said they are prepared to provide this academy next semester.
Registration is week to week to provide flexibility to families. Fees range from $60 to $300 a week, depending on the option you choose. Space is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.