COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Governor Henry McMaster on Wednesday announced schools will remain closed for the remainder of the current school year.
“The decision we have made comes after much consultation with a comprehensive group of people including parents, teachers, administrators and health professionals,” said McMaster from the South Carolina Emergency Operations Center in Columbia.
McMaster plans to issue an executive order regarding the closure next week and said it will provide elements including flexibility for the districts and superintendents to allow for special needs classes and summer teaching.
Despite buildings not reopening, virtual instruction will continue.
Gov. McMaster and State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman thanked parents, teachers and students for the work they have done throughout the e-learning process.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like it, to see that all of our students have educational opportunities at home – a lot of thought and effort went into it,” said McMaster.
Spearman said schools are the backbone of the community and when they are closed, all of us hurt.
She said children want to go to school, parents want them to go to school and teachers want to be there with their children. “We want to see them growing and learning.”
Throughout the pandemic, Spearman said, “we have been able to carry on really good instruction.”
She announced she spoke with over 4,000 teachers and said over 80% of them told her they very pleased with how virtual instruction was going.
“We do have a few children who are struggling, some families we have not been able to work with. So, through this method, I ask you to please reach out to us for whatever reason,” she said. “if it’s for being ill or you don’t understand the work, please contact your school or teacher so we can work together to make sure all students are moving forward.”
Spearman said they would love to open the schools in August and will form a task force to look at how to do that in a safe way.
She also said summer school is not necessarily out of the question. She said it’s usually held in June, but could be pushed to July or right before the start of the new school year if needed.
For parents who will need to return to work, Governor McMaster said the newly created AccelerateSC task force will be looking into options to address those needs and hopes to have a plan soon.
Gov. McMaster called on the many school districts across the state and encouraged them to find creative ways to have graduation ceremonies. “We’ve heard a lot of imaginative, innovative plans – we know that is a part of American life and is something that is very important to families and students who want to walk at their graduation.”
Spearman said virtual instructions should continue until your district’s original last day of instruction.
Student meal distribution and Wifi capable buses will continue to operate as well.