Darlington County School Board putting kids back in classes
The Darlington County School Board voted Monday night to begin returning students to in-person classes starting Sept. 21 and continuing for at least a month.
Under the plan, elementary-school grades will return to school “face to face” five days a week, partly because district officials feel that it will be relatively easy to “social-distance” them and party because officials feel the younger children most need in-person learning.
Middle-schoolers and high-schoolers will return to class part-time. They will use what officials call an “A/B” schedule, with some attending classes in person on Mondays and Wednesdays, others on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When not physically in class, they will learn online.
District officials will take all possible COVID-19 precautions, including having students wear face masks and distancing desks six feet apart. This plan – full-time classes for elementary students, part-time for older students – will continue for at least a month, then officials will review how well it is working.
Special-education, “self-contained” students in grades K-12 will attend class in person five days a week during the next month at least.
The plan will not affect students already signed up for the district’s year-long Virtual Academy, a totally online education system. About 3,700 students opted for the Virtual Academy.
The board’s Monday-night decision appears to clear the way for at least a limited schedule of high-school football games. Officials said COVID-19 precautions would be in use and the number of spectators in the stands would be limited to 25 percent of normal.
Five-day, in-person classes for all public-school students is the district’s goal, but officials will approach that goal cautiously, monitoring students’ health and monitoring COVID-19 data step by step.
The board endorsed the Monday plan by a 5-1 vote, with board member Charles Govan voting no and board member Connell Delaine absent because of illness.
“We’re all excited to have our kids coming back into the classroom,” board chairman Warren Jeffords told reporters. “They learn better in the classroom face to face. We’ve done a lot of work on this – we’ve thought about it and worked on it for several months now.”