School opening revamped; state requires in-person option

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Parents must choose one of two options; but plan still must be approved by state.

The Colleton County School Board met Tuesday Aug. 4 to discuss updates to the upcoming school year, after the plan for an all-virtual school opening was rejected by the State Department of Education. That initial plan by the district’s task force provided four models to follow in anticipation of COVID increasing or declining, starting with all virtual instruction.

The new plan will offer both virtual and in-person learning options at the start of school. Parents can choose one of the options: all virtual or blended virtual and in-person.

Molly Spearman, state superintendent of education, sent memos to all school districts saying that all school district plans for reopening schools must be approved by the South Carolina Department of Education. According to Spearman, those plans must include a virtual option for all students, an in-person option for all students, and a time frame to implement face-to-face instruction.

Since the state said that face-to-face instruction must be offered as well as virtual, the CCSD had to create a new plan to present to the school board. This plan may yet change, due to increases in the rate of COVID-19 spread and additional instructions from the S.C. Dept. of Education, which must approve the new plan before CCSD can move forward. School, however, will still begin September 8.

By Tuesday Aug. 11, parents must complete a survey selecting their choice of one of the two below options. The survey will be available on the CCSD website (colleton.k12.sc.us) and on individual school websites starting Aug. 6. Paper versions can be picked up at the CCSD office (500 Forest Circle) or at schools.

Families who do not respond to the survey will be automatically placed in Option #2 below, the blended option.

Option 1. Parents will have a choice of virtual instruction all year as previously offered. Students who participate in the all virtual option will attend classes online five days a week. Virtual learning will be a combination of live instruction by teachers through live-streamed videos and computer-based learning.

The district is continuing to explore options for families without reliable internet access, and will provide a channel for these families to participate in the virtual learning initiatives.

Option 2. Parents will also be offered the option of sending their children to school two days a week in a blended model. This model has students attending in-person school for two days a week and online three days a week. Students will attend in person either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, with the other three days online. Parents who choose this option will be notified which two days their child/children are to attend in person. The two-day attendance will be divided by area of the county so that siblings can attend the same two days.

Wednesdays the buildings will be sanitized.

Buses will be provided, but must run at 50% capacity, according to the S.C. Dept. of Education.

Depending on numbers, some students and teachers may have to be redistributed to other classrooms or schools so the custodian staff can sanitize classrooms.

The state also mandated four LEAP (Learn Evaluate Analyze Prepare) days where all students must meet with teachers face to face. Those days will be on August 26 through September 1.

Meals

All students in school two days will eat meals at school those two days and take home three meals for the three virtual days.

All virtual students will still be offered meals but they will have to pick up meals, since buses will not be available to deliver due to transporting students to and from school, then cleaning and sanitizing buses in between runs.

Ellen Fitch, food service department coordinator, said that parents need to register their children as soon as possible to continue to receive breakfast and lunch.

“We are working on the registration now, along with the transportation survey that will be needed to set up transportation for the LEAP days on August 26-September 1,” said Fitch. “I will be asking for names of enrolled students and which schools they are enrolled, along with correct (911) addresses. I will need to know if they want meal delivery to a bus stop or if they want to pick up the student’s meals at school, in order to set up the student to be added to a bus route or school pickup roster.”

Return to normal?

Once it is deemed safe, the district will gradually phase into the traditional five-day in-person learning in the schools. The district will use all possible measures to keep schools clean and safe for students, staff and parents.

Once the district decides to return to the traditional five-day format, parents will still have the option to continue virtual learning for the entirety of the 2020-2021 school year. Additional information on this virtual learning option will be released at a later date.

Public forum

CCSD will hold a virtual public forum through YouTube Live on Monday Aug. 10 starting at 3 p.m. to discuss school reopening. Public forum participants can submit any questions they have on school reopening to publicinput@colleton.k12.sc.us, so they can be addressed during the virtual public forum.

Additional information on school reopening will be released as soon as possible through multiple information channels.

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