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South Carolina schools forced to go virtual due to COVID-19

Nearly 20 schools across the Midlands have temporarily closed buildings due to COVID-19 cases and lack of staff.

LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. — Most Midlands schools are about three weeks into their year and many have now returned to remote learning due to COVID-19.

As of Friday, there are 19 schools in the area that have gone virtual. 

The principal of Pine Ridge Middle School in Lexington District Two, Dr. David Basile, called the temporary change "a chance to get the building healthy again."

Pine Ridge decided to temporarily go to e-learning after a third of their school had to quarantine for being close contacts to positive cases.

RELATED: 4th Lexington District Two school moves to remote learning due to COVID-19

“This gives the building a chance to air out. It gives everybody a chance to go home, get past all the quarantine periods, and we should have maybe one student still out on the 13th," Basile said. 

The middle school plans to return to in-person learning on Sept. 13.

Basile said he feels hopeful this will give them the reset they need now that Lexington Two has a temporary mask mandate. The mandate was passed Thursday and is in effect through the end of October, despite the state proviso that bans mask mandates.

RELATED: Lexington Two passes temporary school mask mandate after 4 schools move to e-learning

“A short-term mask requirement; it has to happen," Basile said. "I mean, we've got to try things to keep kids in school."

Cayce Elementary, also in Lexington Two, was the first in the Midlands to go temporarily remote this year. 

Northside Middle and Wood Elementary have now joined them.

In Lexington District One, eight schools have now gone temporarily remote, through Sept. 10.

RELATED: Lexington One now has 8 schools in remote learning

The district's superintendent, Dr. Greg Little told News19 that they had to go remote due to a lack of staff. 

"That’s really our greatest challenge about running schools. You have to have adults in the building in order to instruct the way we want to instruct,” Little said.

He said a lot of their staff has been out to quarantine, which "has been the catalyst to take students to an online learning platform.”

He said that, when the schools return on Sept. 13, they should have fewer teachers out due to quarantine.

In Lexington District Three, Batesburg-Leesville High School went virtual due to high case numbers among students and staff. 

RELATED: Batesburg-Leesville High School moves to virtual learning due to rising COVID cases

Plus, all of Clarendon County School District Two will be remote next week.

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