DCSD braces for more COVID-19 turmoil

DCSD Superintendent of Education Tim Newman. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By Bobby Bryant, Editor

editor@newsandpress.net

Already being battered by COVID-19 only two weeks into the school year, the Darlington County School District plans to keep its students in class, in person, for as long as possible. “It’s a moving target, just like it was last year,” said School Board Chairman Warren Jeffords during an Aug. 23 board meeting. “We’re going to keep the schools open as long as we can.” Darlington County public schools reopened for the fall semester Aug. 9. In the first two weeks of school, Education Superintendent Tim Newman said, the district recorded 137 positive COVID cases, requiring more than 700 people to be quarantined. The Hartsville, Darlington and Lamar high school football teams have had to be quarantined since the season began; the Lamar High School volleyball team has had to quarantine as well. “What we’ve been experiencing over the past two weeks, nobody has experienced that before,” Newman said. The COVID crisis appears much more volatile now than it did during the “first wave” in 2020. “This is changing way too quickly,” Newman said. The school district planned to have students spend time doing “practice” work on remote learning systems in case the district needs to return to a mostly, or entirely, online-education system, as it did last year. Over the previous two weeks, Newman said, 137 DCSD students tested positive for COVID. “Now, that creates a larger number of quarantines. Out of the 137 that we had, that created 743 quarantines.” “Are schools managing? They are,” Newman said. “Are they incredibly stretched? They are.” “We’ve got large numbers of kids out, like everybody has,” Newman said. “The majority of them are not positive or sick, they’re quarantined. And the majority of them are out because they live in a household with somebody who tested positive.” He said all the district can do is closely monitor the situation and react as needed. “My goal is to keep teaching what’s in front of us,” Newman said. “And as long as we have enough adults to do that, safely – as long as we can safely maintain our students’ education process …. we’re going to keep the schools open. People say, ‘When are you going to shut down?’ There is no magic number to shut down.”

Author: Rachel Howell

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