Sumter School District recovers from fiscal emergency, ready to begin school year virtually

Sumter School District recovers from fiscal emergency, ready to begin school year virtually

SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - The Sumter School District is no longer in a declared fiscal emergency and school leaders there say they’re ready for the upcoming school year.

For now, the district is sticking with plans to begin the school year virtually, despite guidance from the governor and, more recently, the state superintendent of education to offer a face-to-face option.

Superintendent of the Sumter School District, Dr. Penelope Martin-Knox, says everyone will begin the school year online on August 28 to ensure the safety of students and staff. Teachers will begin the school year virtually one week before that.

Sumter County is currently showing a high incidence rate of COVID-19 according to the website for DHEC.

Once it’s safe to do so, the Sumter School District is planning to transition to a hybrid model but will offer an online option for the entire school year. The district is still finalizing details for what that hybrid model will look like, but will give parents a two-week notice before making the change.

In February of 2019, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman declared a fiscal emergency in the Sumter School District arguing its financial stability was at risk. Dr. Martin-Knox says today the district is in a better place.

“We received a notification that we were no longer in fiscal emergency but I will tell you that we are monitoring our budget very closely and making sure the children can have what it is that they deserve and what they need without us slipping back into that position or that category of fiscal emergency,” said Martin-Knox.

Plans for instruction will be reevaluated every 30 days for the Sumter School District.

Two weeks before the start of school, between August 10-14, the district will offer five in-person Learn, Evaluate, Analyze and Prepare (LEAP) days to asses students’ needs.

There will also be an opportunity for intermittent face-to-face interaction throughout the school year to ensure students are getting what they need.

For all in-person instruction, staff will be required to wear masks and students are strongly encouraged to do so.

Reopening plans for the Sumter School District have not been approved by the State Superintendent of Education.

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