CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)– Parents, teachers, and students across South Carolina are wondering what to expect next month when school returns to session.
The South Carolina Department of Education’s AccelerateED task force released their final report on June 22nd. The report serves as a reopening guideline for individual school districts.
South Carolina Superintendent Molly Spearman said the final plans will be up to the districts to decide.
“I don’t believe that directive needs to come from Washington D.C., and really not even Columbia. That needs to be decided in the local community… where folks know the needs of the community,” said Spearman.
The report includes three scheduling models for reopening. Model 1 is described as ‘traditional scheduling’.
“In this scenario, health guidelines and facility considerations allow for all students and staff to
return to a school to open the school year, because there is low or no spread of COVID-19 in the
area and low to no positive cases within the school building.”AccelerateED Report
Class size caps, limited group activities, staggered class dismissal, and scheduled restroom breaks are all recommended for the Model 1 option.
Model 2 is described as, “hybrid scheduling’.
“This situation is most likely to be experienced during a period of medium spread of COVID-19
in the area and a medium number of positive cases within the school building. In this scenario,
only a portion of staff and students can report to a physical school building due to a combination
of health requirements and facility/space limitations.”AccelerateED
Model 3 is listed as ‘full distance learning.’
“In this scenario, all students and staff are unable to return to a physical school building due to
high spread of COVID-19 in the area and high numbers of positive cases within the school
building. In this event, districts should rely on a full distance learning schedule until the health
situation permits a return to in-person instruction for all or part of the students in a school.”AccelerateED
A metric system created by DHEC for the department of education ranks the threat of the virus for each county on a low, medium, and high scale. Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties are ranked as high.
According to the report, mandatory masks, face shields for teachers, half capacity buses, and in-classroom lunches are likely if a district were to return to the classroom setting.
A letter released Monday from three teacher advocacy groups addressed to Governor Henry McMaster details concerns about how districts will implement the department’s recommendations.
SC for ED representative, Leanna Rossi-Potter, is a teacher at Wando High School. Rossi-Potter said she was pleased with the detailed report released by the AccelerateED task force, but worries about the room for error when plans are left up to different schools and districts.
Rossi-Potter says she hopes for standardized protocols and consistency to avoid confusion for teachers, parents, and students.
“We are just concerned that maybe districts around the state won’t have standardized procedures for health and safety,” said Rossi-Potter. “We want to make sure they are as safe as possible,” she added.
Spearman said she hopes each district puts choices in the hands of parents.
“My main goal, my number one, is that students are safe and that parents in South Carolina do have the option on how their children will receive education in the fall- either virtually or face to face.”
Each district needs to release their final plans within 20 days of the start of the school year. The Charleston County School District is slated to start school on August 18th, but in a recent meeting, leaders considered pushing that date back. Berkeley County School District students will begin school on August 17th.
Finalized plans for reopening Dorchester District Two schools will be presented to the Board of Trustees for consideration and approval at a called meeting on Monday, July 20th at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will be live streamed at ddtwo.org/live.
You can watch the full interview with Superintendent Spearman on Thursday July, 16th at 8 p.m.