CCSD leader says a fully virtual district would be a ‘last-ditch effort’

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – On Thursday, Julian Mitchell Elementary became the seventh Charleston County School to move to virtual learning. The Charleston County School District (CCSD) cited an abundance of COVID-19 cases and quarantines as the reasoning behind the decision.

Jeff Borowy, CCSD’s Chief Operating Officer, says in the first 14 days of school, more than 900 cases of COVID-19 were reported. Borowy says that’s 33% of the entire case count reported during the 2020-21 school year.

Of those 900 cases, 90% are student infections, while the remaining are staff and teachers.

Borowy says the choice to move schools to virtual is driven by multiple factors, starting with a 5% positivity threshold.

We look at the number of students that are quarantined, the total number of students that are quarantined, because it could get to a point where you’re teaching more kids [that] are on the sidelines than are learning in schools.

Jeff Borowy CCSD Chief Operating Officer 

Borowy says they also look at the co-horting in schools, the ability to keep classes separate, how big the school is, how much extra space the school has, and how much distance can be kept between students.

While seven schools are now in virtual learning, those in the CCSD community are beginning to ask if the entire district will collectively go virtual. Borowy says for CCSD specifically, that would be a last-ditch effort.

We know that a majority of our students work better in school and rather than virtual so we want to make sure that we are maximizing that opportunity and the other thing is we don’t want to say punish but we don’t wanna put schools out that have a really low percentage. 

Jeff Borowy CCSD Chief Operating Officer 

While the district has a timeline of 2 weeks for each school’s virtual transition, they say an extension is not out of the question.

Borowy says they came to the agreement of two weeks to give those in the district the ability to know initially how long virtual school should last. However, the time should also be spent by those thinking about how they can get back into school as well.

As for a message for the CCSD community, Borowy asks that all be kind to the school nurses as they are not only contract tracing, but caring for those who are ill.

For a breakdown of school by school COVID-19 cases, click here.

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