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Kershaw County schools begin new year on Aug. 5

Parents in the Midlands are preparing to send their kids back to school next month, as early as August 5.

KERSHAW COUNTY, S.C. — Parents and school districts in the Midlands are preparing for the new school year that begins next month, including Matmon Harrell, a Kershaw County parent. 

"We saw the changes in my child’s behavior, his grades, those kind of things," Harrell said. "So, I couldn’t wait to get back to school." Harrell's son, 8-years-old and a student in Kershaw County, begins the new school year on August 5th. 

He said he regrets taking his son out of in-person learning last year because he watched him regress in education. Harrell said he is happy to send his son back to school in person. Even with the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, he is not worried about in-person learning. 

Kershaw County School District Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins said they will be opening up next week with the same protocols as the past school year -- sanitizing, temperature checks for all students, staff, and guests, hydrostatic spraying, and keeping isolation rooms for anyone who shows symptoms. 

"I think the last 18 months have prepared us for the ability to pivot and respond based on how this virus spreads," said Dr. Robbins.

One big change coming into the school district is the mask policy. 

"We’re going to just enter the school year with masking being 100% optional," said Dr. Robbins. "No waiver, opt out forms ... just simply optional. So, if a family chooses to send their child with a face mask, that's their choice. Likewise, if they don't want their child masked, that's their choice."

Dr. Robbins said Kershaw County parents have the option for virtual learning with Virtual Academy. He said there are 500 openings, and just over 200 parents have opted in for remote learning. 

Christy Roberts is a Kershaw County parent of a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old. She said sending her girls back to school is a great way to get back to normal. 

"All of them were in school last year," Roberts said. "In fact, one of my girls got quarantined—almost every two weeks. When she turned around, she was being quarantined. I mean, I really think they need the exposure, so I mean the whole mask thing doesn't really bother me that much. I know it's serious. People probably need to protect themselves a little better."

Roberts said her daughters don't want to wear masks and supports their choice. She said she is not worries about sending either of them back to school next week. 

Dr. Robbins said the district is prepared to fully reopen for the new school year and will keep all staff and students safe and healthy. 

"We are going to be cautiously optimistic, This is going to be an uneventful school year," said Dr. Robbins. "We want to be able to educate our students to the best of our abilities and at the same time, safeguarding them and our staff and I think we’re ready for that."

School District Reopening:

Richland 1: August 18th

Richland 2: August 18th

Lexington 1: August 17th

Lexington 2: August 16th

Lexington 3: August 16th

Lexington 4: August 17th

Lexington-Richland 5: August 18th

Newberry: August 16th

Fairfield: August 17th

Kershaw: August 5th

Lee: August 17th

Sumter: August 17th

Clarendon 1: TBD

Clarendon 2: August 16th

Clarendon 3: August 17th

Orangeburg: August 16th

Calhoun: August 16th

Saluda: August 19th

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