COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Department of Education and State Superintendent Molly Spearman have approved the reopening plans of 36 more public school districts on Friday.
Richland County School District One is on the approved list, as well as Lee County Schools and Clarendon County districts One and Three.
Richland One’s approval is contingent upon the district offering an in-person learning option for students no later than Sept. 14.
When the plan was submitted, the district intended to start school fully virtually on Aug. 31.
Spearman also announced Friday that everyone in a public school building will be required to wear a mask -- that includes students and staff.
“It is imperative that we implement measures that are proven to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus,” Spearman said. “Requiring the use of face masks for everyone in our school buildings in combination with other mitigation tactics will help ensure that we have safe learning environments even when optimal social distancing is not feasible.”
There are some exceptions to that mandate. Those include:
- Children younger than 2 years old.
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
- Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.
The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) says it will provide five cloth face masks for every teacher, bus driver, custodian and food service worker at a public school.
Officials say they will also have masks “readily available” on school buses, another place where everyone must wear a mask.
SCDE said it’s also worked with state emergency officials to place statewide orders for masks, face shields, gowns, gloves, flexiglass, hand sanitizer and more specifically for use by public schools.
The 36 districts whose reopening plans were approved Friday are (Midlands schools marked in bold):
- Anderson School District One
- Anderson School District Two
- Anderson School District Three
- Anderson School District 4
- Bamberg School District One
- Bamberg School District 2
- Williston School District 29 (Barnwell 29)
- Barnwell School District 45
- Charleston County School District
- Cherokee County School District
- Chesterfield County School District
- Clarendon School District One
- Clarendon County School District Three
- Dillon School District Three
- Dillon School District Four
- Dorchester School District Two
- Dorchester School District Four
- Florence Public School District One
- Florence County School District Four
- Florence County School District Five
- Georgetown County School District
- Hampton County School District 2
- Jasper County School District
- Laurens County School District 55
- Lee County School District
- Marion County School District (Marion 10)
- Marlboro County School District
- McCormick County School District
- Richland County School District One
- Spartanburg School District One
- Spartanburg School District Three
- Spartanburg School District Four
- Spartanburg School District Five
- Spartanburg School District Six
- Spartanburg School District 7
- Union County Schools
Reopening plans for the two Governor’s Schools in the state were also approved Friday. They will both offer students the option to return to face-to-face learning in small groups or choose to remain 100% virtual for the school year.
SCDE says it’s still reviewing the remaining plans for schools across the state and hopes to have them all approved by the first week of August.
It previously approved 31 other plans, including 10 other Midlands’ school districts.
For a district’s plan to be approved, it must meet the following criteria:
1. A virtual option for all students
- Districts may choose to deliver their own virtual program, take advantage of VirtualSC, suggest enrollment in one of the public charter virtual schools, or contract the service.
- Districts must ensure that any virtual model includes at least an initial in-person contact with students. Intermittent face-to-face contact with students is also strongly encouraged.
2. An in-person option for all students
- Hybrid/blended learning models will be considered an in-person option for students.
- If a five day a week face-to-face instruction model can be safely offered, districts are encourage to do so; however, it is not required for plan approval.
3. A time-frame for when districts intend to review operational plans so that implementation of a full face-to-face instruction model can be worked towards as health and safety conditions improve.
4. Establish how high quality instruction will be provided, regardless of instructional model, and demonstrate how a broad range of student services will be provided. This includes ensuring all federal and state law requirements are met.