CAMDEN, S.C. (WIS) - As South Carolina school districts begin to submit reopening plans, the Kershaw County School District shared details of its plan Friday.
Those plans are right in line with the governor’s recent requests to allow students into classrooms five days a week, if parents choose that over virtual learning.
The district’s plans were finalized earlier this week, before the governor announced his latest recommendations on Wednesday.
The original start date for Kershaw County Schools would have been August 17, but that’s been pushed back to September 8, one day after Labor Day. That’s when Gov. Henry McMaster suggested schools reopen.
District superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins told WIS that after surveying community members it became clear that most parents want options.
Kershaw County families will have three options: face-to-face instruction five days a week, or what’s being called a virtual eCampus on which students can either participate online in real time, or watch recorded lessons and work at their own pace.
For families who choose the in-person option, those students can expect to see smaller class sizes and dividers in the cafeteria among other changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We going to use a device called Fever,” Robbins said. “It does an infrared scan of people coming in the building so that we can identify if there’s a potential health threat and so that’ll be one device you’ll see in our school district.”
If a child appears to have a temperature, they have a plan for that.
“All of our school buildings will have one room identified as an isolation room,” he explained. “It will be separate from the nurse’s office. And in that isolation room, our nurse can come and then do a thorough evaluation and we can determine whether that child needs to be sent home.”
The superintendent mentioned possibly splitting classes in half. For example, if you have a class of 24 students, 12 would be in the classroom with the teacher, the other half in a neighboring classroom with an instructional assistant while the teacher’s lesson is live streamed.
However, based on survey results from the community, Robbins says that may not be necessary depending on how many families choose the face-to-face option.
“In our survey, at this point, over 50% of our patrons have responded and over 50% of them are going to choose the virtual option,” he said. “So that’s going to make the social distancing inside our buildings a little bit more manageable.”
He added that buses will have no more than 50% capacity and that three-fourths of those surveyed “have said they will not use school transportation."
“That makes it a little easier for us to social distance on a bus and not have to double and triple route our buses,” Robbins explained. “If we do have to double and triple route our buses, then what we will do is have staggered start and end times to the school day.”
Robbins says the Kershaw County School District is considered one of the leaders in eLearning across the state.
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But he made sure to point out the new virtual eCampus option will not resemble the eLearning system we saw when schools closed in March, when the district preached “Grace over Grades.”
This time around, Robbins says parents who choose the eCampus option will be told upfront the expectations for accountability. He says teachers will be prepared to make calls or even do home visits to ensure they can account for every student.
There will be flexibility, and families will have the option to switch between face-to-face instruction or the eCampus at the halfway point of each grading period -- or every four and half weeks.
As for masks, Robbins says staff will be required to wear them, but they’re still deciding on the policy for students.
Right now, they’re considering making masks mandatory for students in 6th grade and higher, and leaving it up to the parents for elementary students.