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Calhoun County schools prepare for first day of classes

The school district has decided to start school virtually due to COVID-19 numbers in the area.

CALHOUN COUNTY, S.C. — Calhoun County School District is getting ready to start their year virtually next week.

School districts across the state are beginning classes in different ways, in person, using a hybrid model, or virtually. 

School district superintendent Dr. Steve Wilson believes Calhoun County is ready to start the school year and adjust to issues that could arise.

"Seems like we're ready. There's usually always a few glitches when we start school back the first day," said Dr. Wilson.

While learning will look a lot different this year, Dr. Wilson believes it's important for learning to continue during the pandemic.

"Students are our lifeblood. They're the future of the country. We need to do all that we can do to insure that the learning process is taking place daily," said Dr. Wilson. "I think the quality of instruction is going to be much better than most people anticipate."

Calhoun County Public Schools made the decision to start the year virtually because of the pandemic.

"It's certainly been different. I guess it's certainly tasked us a little more trying to get ready because we've got parents and teachers and others who have their own ideas about when we should start, should we start and how we should start," explained Dr. Wilson.

Both students and teachers will begin the year from home.  According to the district, they hope teachers will be able to teach from their classrooms soon. 

Students were also given the option to learn virtually all year. 

Every few weeks, the district will discuss changes surrounding the pandemic and figure out whether or not students should start coming to school for face-to-face instruction. The district would move to two days of in-person teaching and three days virtual. 

With Calhoun County being a rural area, one of the biggest concerns has been internet access for students.

"We've received the hotspots and as we speak, parents and others have come in to pick up the hotspots. That seems to be going well," said Dr. Wilson.

The school district ordered about 700 hotspots. Parents are able to apply for these hotspots by clicking here.

"Part of the glitches that we've had a little bit of problem with, some equipment that we're working through. We've asked for additional bandwidth and I think it's coming soon," said Dr. Wilson.

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Dr. Wilson also said some students who have trouble being online from home will be able to come into gyms and be isolated so they can use internet at the school.

The superintendent believes they have everything they need from a technology stand point to have a successful school year.

"We've got hotspots in everybody's hands. We have several teachers who's internet service was not working well and so we've given them hotspots as well," explained Dr. Wilson.

The school district has also requested personal protective equipment through the CARES Act.

A parent reached out to News 19 because they were concerned about how the virtual school was going to work and thought families would have to pay a fee for online classes.

"The virtual learning doesn't cost anything if they're signed up with the school district. There's no costs," said Dr. Wilson. "If they've got any concerns, we just advise them to call their school, call the principal and I'm sure they can walk them through whatever concerns they have."

The superintendent believes people are and should be optimistic for the school year.

"I think we all learned a lot from last year back in March when this thing came about," said Dr. Wilson. "Having to go through it, you pick up some things and you learn some things. I think the quality of instruction is going to be better."

The first day of school will be Monday, August 17.

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