After 3 weeks of COVID caution, schools reopening

By Bobby Bryant Editor

Three weeks later than educators had first hoped, Darlington County’s public schools were planning to reopen Jan. 25 and return to “the new normal” created by COVID-19. “Though the number of cases in Darlington County is still high, the numbers are decreasing,” county Education Superintendent Tim Newman said in a statement Jan. 21. “We have also seen a significant drop in the number of cases among teachers and students over the past weeks.” “We took the time out of our buildings to get past the holiday surge, and we believe this was accomplished,” Newman said. “Students learn best in a face-to-face environment, and we look forward to bringing our students back into our buildings.” Beginning this week, students were to return to the mode of learning where they left off when they departed for Christmas break. For kindergarten and elementary school students, that means being back in “face to face” classes full-time. For middle and high school students, that means returning to their “hybrid” schedule, dividing their time between in-person classes and online instruction. For students in the district’s Virtual Academy, that means continuing to take courses online full-time. Some students have been OK’d to switch their “learning modes” — from virtual to in-person, or vice versa – but the district says that changeover will not take place until the end of the semester. That’s Jan. 29 for high-school students and Feb. 5 for those in elementary and middle schools. The district is asking parents “to contact their child’s school as soon as possible if their child tests positive for COVID-19 or is placed in quarantine. This is also true if the child tested positive or is in quarantine while the schools were virtual.” Originally, Darlington County’s public schools were to return to their new routines Jan. 4, but the district, concerned about local COVID numbers, decided to delay reopening for two weeks. During that time, classes were conducted online. District officials then postponed reopening one more week, aiming for a return to classrooms Jan. 25 if COVID conditions allowed it. All sports in all county schools have been on hold for the past three weeks. The district says sports and other extracurricular activities also will resume this week.

Author: Stephan Drew

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