COLUMBIA, S.C. — School districts around the Midlands are working to finalize plans for starting school in the fall. However, some of their plans were rocked by Governor Henry McMaster's remarks that schools should give the option for face-to-face learning for five days a week.
News 19 reached out to all of the school districts around the Midlands to get a better understanding of how this will impact their plans, as many were planning on a hybrid model that would allow for virtual and in-person learning.
Clarendon One School District
Clarendon One School District had been working on finalizing their plans for the start of the school year, but says there will have to be several adjustments that could potentially be made.
Clarendon Two School District
Clarendon Two School District recently sent a survey out to families, asking about their household technology. They are hoping to gather information on each student's ability to participate in virtual learning.
They are still working on a plan for schools in the fall.
Clarendon Three School District
Monday, Clarendon Three district officials told News 19 they're in the process of developing and finalizing plans.
Calhoun County Schools
Calhoun County Schools was working on three models for reopening schools. Those included E-learning, a hybrid approach and a virtual model through the Calhoun County Public Schools Virtual Acellus program.
They planned to begin schools on August 17th.
Fairfield County Schools
Fairfield County School District reopening task force met on Monday, July 13th and presented their recommendations for Fall 2020. Dr. JR Green, superintendent for the district says they plan to present recommendations to the Fairfield County School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday, July 21st.
"As a result of the increases in COVID-19 transmission, we have elected to deliver our academic recovery/reading instruction through a virtual format," says Dr. Green.
Kershaw County Schools
"Option One is kind of traditional, brick and mortar, in-person. The other two options are both virtual learning. Option Two would be in real-time and Option Three is more at your own pace. Option Three appeals to a family maybe whose parents work during the day, but they want to be available when their students do their lessons," said Mary Anne Byrd, the district's Executive Director for Community Relations.
In a school board meeting Tuesday night, they approved a September 8 start date to give more time for planning.
Lee County Schools
Lee County Schools is also exploring options for the start of the school year. They will discuss some of the reopening ideas during their next meeting on July 23rd.
Lexington One School District
District Superintendent Dr. Greg Little says their June 23rd plan was a good start, but have since updated it.
"We pushed our start date back to August 31st," says Dr. Little. "It will allow us to plan, train, practice our safety procedures. "It will give us time to have our hand sanitizers our Plexiglas, all of the PPE we've ordered and have that stuff come in."
He says they plan on having hand sanitizer in all classes and relying on mask use throughout the day for students.
Lexington Two School District
Lexington Two School District says they haven't released their plans, but expect to have them finalized by the end of the week.
Lexington Three School District
Lexington School District Three officials detailed reopening plans Tuesday night. A Parent Choice Form will be mailed out where parents can select the learning model that best fits their child for the first semester. For the upcoming school year, students will have virtual, in-person instruction and hybrid options for learning.
Lexington Four School District
Earlier this week, administrators with Lexington School District Four told News 19 they're planning to send out a survey to parents and community members. They're trying to figure out how many people will choose the virtual learning option. They had a meeting Monday to discuss reopening plans, with students beginning instruction August 17.
As of Wednesday evening, their website reads, "Our current reopening plan provides parents and students with a choice between a K-12 virtual program or hybrid model consisting of weekly on-campus and virtual instruction."
"Due to the Governor's newly announced recommendations, Lexington Four is reviewing our plan in collaboration with the SC Department of Education to ensure we meet legal mandates while maintaining our ability to follow established health and safety guidelines to the extent possible."
Lexington-Richland Five School District
Lexington-Richland School District Five officials tell News 19 their plan already includes a 5-day traditional option for learning and a virtual option. Their full plan will be shared with parents later this week. They're also considering a change to their school year calendar. Any changes must be approved by school board members.
Newberry School District
School District of Newberry County officials tell us board members had a meeting and work session Wednesday evening to discuss plans for the 2020-2021 school year. They plan to release the reopening plans next week.
Orangeburg Consolidated School District
Administrators with Orangeburg County School District say, as of Monday, they don't have an official plan yet. They're continuing to look for the best options. We're told the superintendent has met with every principal in the district to discuss the best way to move forward.
Richland School District One
Richland School District One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon says they were planning on having a phased in approach.
"We were looking at several different models, not a this or that, but combination," says Dr. Witherspoon. "Again, virtual being an option and possibly a hybrid and with our special-needs population, more time meeting. I can tell you we were not looking at a full, everyone, five-days a week model. Given the community spread and the conditions here in Richland County, that's something new that's been put out there right now and we'll have to reevaluate that."
The district originally planned on starting on August 19th, but are evaluating a September 8th start.
Richland Two School District
The Richland Two School District is still looking at a tentative start date for August 19. In a meeting last week, board members were presented with a three-phase approach for reopening schools. E-learning will be in the first phase, a hybrid model in the second and traditional classes in the third.
In a statement to News 19, the district says in part: Administrators from Richland School District Two along with the Richland Two Reopening Schools Task Force met today after Governor Henry McMaster held a press conference regarding reopening schools on July 15, 2020. As planned, district administrators will present the final draft of the district’s reopening plan during public session of the Tuesday, July 21, 2020 board meeting. The final draft will be based on the phased re-entry plan that was presented at the July 9 Special Called Board Meeting.
“Those who are making the decisions about the upcoming school year for Richland Two, want to reunite our students and teachers in their classrooms as soon as possible,” said Richland Two Superintendent Dr. Baron R. Davis. “We know there is no way to fully replace the value of traditional instruction. However, the pandemic continues to present safety challenges and concerns for students and employees. We are committed to doing what is best for our students and employees.”
Sumter School District
The Sumter School District, who had finalized their plan of holding classes virtually starting August 17th, says they will have to re-evaluate.
Saying in a statement: There are several factors that we take into consideration regarding the safety and well being of our students and staff when decisions are being made. Dialogue is currently taking place regarding this matter.