Board: COVID threat isn’t gone
By Bobby Bryant
As school board members last week debated putting students back in classrooms again for the first time since March, one board member offered a stark reminder: The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t gone away.
Leigh Anne Kelley told the board: “I would hope that we are ready, that we are ready for a long haul.”
Kelley questioned what would happen if an outbreak of COVID-19 cases took place at only one school in the Darlington County School District.
If it were only one classroom, Education Superintendent Tim Newman said, the district could isolate that class without having to shut down others. If it were more widespread, he said, they would look at other options.
“We’d look at it on a case-by-case, school-by-school, classroom-by-classroom (basis),” Newman said.
“It’s in our best interest to make sure everybody is 6 feet away from each other,” so it’s easier to isolate one person who might be positive for the virus, Newman said. It gets “tricky,” he said, if students are close together – but safety rules are designed to prevent that.
Board member Wanda Hassler suggested thinking in terms of how each school in the district is doing, more so than grouping all the schools into one basket. “If Carolina Elementary School is open, and there are no cases, and it’s running fine, we can continue to let that (operate). If something happens at Cain Elementary School, we might have to do something different at Cain.”
“This is not going to be ‘normal,’” Hassler said. “Everybody says, ‘Let’s just get back to normal.’ Well, this is not. Until we get control of this virus, nothing is going to be ‘normal.’ That is out the window. What we’ve got to create is a new normal.”