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Midlands schools plan for the year ahead with new guidance

State education leaders offer guidance as teachers plan their fall semesters.

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — In the summer after a typical school year, education leaders like Dr. Craig Witherspoon would be planning new programs and looking over enrollment.

But the summer of 2020 is anything but typical as the coronavirus remains a serious concern.

"We don't know the conditions that will be in certainly come August, so how do we plan? How do we make those things happen," Witherspoon asked.

On Monday, state education leaders released almost 95 pages of considerations from class size to budgeting.

RELATED: Final plan for reopening South Carolina schools released

"There's so many aspects that we have to consider, from the number of students that can be on buses, to considerations for HVAC systems and different learning models and scenarios," Witherspoon said. 

Dr. Witherspoon, who leads Richland One schools, went on to say, "so, it's a lot to consider as we prepare for educating students in the fall."

RELATED: How should Sumter schools return in the fall? District wants to hear from families

Lexington School District Two detailed their preparations for the new school year by saying, in part:

"While plans for our new school year are still in the works, we are already doing a number of things recommended in the report -- conducting surveys of families and employees; installing safety enhancements to boost protections in public areas, like school front offices; securing masks and any necessary PPE for employees; evaluating buses, classrooms, and other multi-use areas to meet or exceed social distancing guidelines; evaluating how cafeteria meals will be served; discussing accessible learning for all students, across a number of instructional models, from traditional to blended to virtual; creating communications plans; and much more," the statement read. "In addition, we continue to use current and available data and guidance from CDC, DHEC, SC Department of Education and other agencies as we shape plans for the new school year."

Witherspoon says they're also establishing new safety protocols while analyzing ways to continue relationships between the teachers and the students. 

"Certainly here in Richland County, with the cases being what they are now, we know that this could potentially have an impact on a number of schools and so we've got to be flexible to go into full virtual at a particular school site," Witherspoon said. "Our planning has to be fluid. It has to take into account a lot of things."