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Lexington-Richland Five superintendent pushes to go back to hybrid model

Superintendent Melton recommended reducing in-person school days to twice a week, but board members disagreed.

IRMO, S.C. — On Tuesday, three high schools in Lexington-Richland School District Five abruptly switched to virtual learning after many of their teachers called out. This happened after a district board meeting Monday night where the superintendent suggested reverting to a hybrid model, but the board refused.

Currently, Lexington-Richland Five has students come to in-person learning four days a week. Superintendent Christina Melton suggested they go back to a hybrid model to help keep students and teachers safe, but the board didn't approve. 

RELATED: Student health needs to be priority, state teacher of the year says

"It’s a bad situation when people come in here that don’t have any expertise or experience and want to dictate how the operations of a district are run. That’s what happened [Monday] night," said board member Ed White.

White supported the superintendent, but many of the board members wanted more coronavirus data specific to their schools before allowing her to make that decision.

Board chair Janis Hammond thinks reducing the number of in-person school days is a bad idea.

"As a teacher, I do know that the most important thing is to be in school," Hammond said. "I would really rather we go on with our plan without any readjustment. I know that’s best for students. Trust me. And I believe in the herd immunity."

After the board meeting, dozens of teachers called out ahead of the next school day. This forced Irmo, Chapin and Dutch Fork High Schools to go virtual on Tuesday because they didn’t have enough teachers to staff classrooms.

RELATED: 3 Lexington-Richland 5 high schools close Tuesday due to staff shortage

"This is our second meeting. Our second meeting since the board changed in November and they’ve already brought this school district to a screeching halt," said White. "I mean, three high schools the teachers have essentially walked out and said we’re not coming in unless we have appropriate protocols and leadership in place."

White said many of the district's teachers don’t feel safe at school and want to revert to the hybrid model.

The board will meet again to discuss this issue on Wednesday. White said after talking with other board members, he’s confident they’ll come to a decision that will get teachers back in school.

RELATED: Lexington-Richland Five starts new phase of in-person learning