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Lexington Three starts first day of school during pandemic

Students returned for their first day of in-person classes in the school's hybrid model.
Credit: WLTX

BATESBURG-LEESVILLE, S.C. — Lexington School District Three held their first day of school during the pandemic on Monday.

It's been around five months since kids have been in a classroom.

Maggie Childers, a sophomore at Batesburg-Leesville High School, says the first day of school has been different but she's glad to be back.

"I'm excited to be back in school but I'd wish we'd just gone all five days but at least we get two days," said Childers.

For Lexington Three students, high school students had the option of choosing a hybrid schedule or an all-virtual model.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Childers' freshman year ended a lot different than she anticipated.

"It was definitely different, definitely to see the seniors who were so excited to graduate and then it all just got shut down like all of a sudden," explained Childers.

The sophomore also plays volleyball. She's say they've been taking several precautions while practicing.

"We still have to be six-feet apart and wear our mask when we get there but when we're working out and practicing volleyball, as long as we're six-feet apart, we're good," said Childers. "They have to clean the ball every time somebody touches it."

While things are different, Childers is glad to be around her classmates again.

"Definitely got very, very boring when you couldn't interact with absolutely anybody, but now, we can't really like talk to them as much because we're all six-feet apart and have masks on but when we can, it's definitely nice just to have human interaction again."

RELATED: How Lexington Three is handling in-person learning during the pandemic

Courtney Richardson teaches English Two and AP Seminar. This is her first year at Batesburg-Leesville High School.

"So far, it's been an easy transition because I'm used to the technology," said Richardson. "I'm used to what we've been doing in Lexington Three. So the transition from middle (school) to high (school) was a little more seamless."

The teacher says she's happy to finally be back in the classroom.

"I'm very excited to be back. Five months has been a very long time without being able to interact with our kids and see them," said Richardson. "It's going to be harder now because you can't give them hugs and a lot of them are huggers and just being able to have that social interaction."

While some people are concerned about having school in-person, Richardson believes the staff at the school understand what they need to do to keep everyone safe.

"It is a huge responsibility to take on, not only your everyday role as a teacher but now almost like a guardian so-to-speak, to make sure these kids come to us safely and return back to their family safely," explained Richardson. "I think we've got some good measures in place to be successful with that."

Some of the safety precautions put in place include one-way sides of the hall, spaced out classrooms, masks and shields placed in front of students on their desk.

Richardson says one of the challenges she'll be facing is balancing virtual and face-to-face instruction.

"Making sure that I've got each group on the right pace and make sure that they're being successful at the pace that they need to move forward this semester," said Richardson.

The teacher does believe they'll be offering a more personalized experience for each student because each teen can move forward at the pace they can excel at.

While Monday was the first day of school, if we fast forward to the last day, this teacher hopes she has this to say.

"I'm hoping that we'll be able to say it was a weird start but a fantastic finish and we are exactly where we want to be," said Richardson.

Principal Sonya Bryant was honored this past school year by being named the state's principal of the year.

"(The pandemic) has made us refocus and remember that we're serving individuals, not large groups of students and we have been working for nine days of pre-service preparing for that and we are ready in Lexington Three," said Principal Byrant.

The principal believes they're prepared for the year but also realizes the challenges they are experiencing with broadband access.

The district has been providing hotspots for students who need internet access.

"It's going to take the state really stepping up and making sure we have broadband. It's a quality of life issue in this day and age we live and I can preach this because I live in an area with no broadband access," said Principal Bryant.

She hopes the state will do something soon to help provide broadband access not only to Lexington Three, but all of South Carolina.

"We cannot say that we are equitably serving families in this state if certain families based on your zip code have broadband service and others do not. So much of our daily life is through the internet these days," explained Principal Bryant. "How do those families function, not just educationally but just in life in general? In education, we do everything we can to make things equitable for kids. I want to see the state make things equitable for all of its citizens."

RELATED: Batesburg-Leesville Community honors Class of 2020 with Panther Prowl Parade