S.C. superintendent encourages school districts to return to face-to-face learning for some students

Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 2:32 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – South Carolina’s state superintendent is encouraging schools to offer a return to face-to-face learning for students who need it the most.

In a Sept. 16 letter sent to district superintendents, S.C. Superintendent Molly Spearman said many students and their families have been able to “successfully navigate” virtual learning, while others are struggling and “desperately” need to return to in-person instruction.

“These populations include, but are not limited to, students with disabilities, English learners, students who are homeless, in foster care, or group homes, students in kindergarten through fifth grades, students who are academically delayed, and those with poor or intermittent internet connectivity at home,” Spearman wrote.

Spearman addressed those who have expressed concern over the high rate of COVID-19 spread in some counties as defined by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s weekly report. She noted that while those reports are important tools for making decisions, “we cannot make all operational decisions based on any one document.”

“Please consider parental choice of face to face and virtual learning environments, faculty and staff availability, and personal protective equipment and supplies,” Spearman wrote.

The full letter can be read below:

Prior to the start of the new school year, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster requested that school districts across the state present reopening plans that included the option of in-person learning five days a week, or continued virtual learning.

Last week, the governor expressed frustration at school districts that did not offer parents the option of face-to-face instruction five days of week for their students.

“Parents are not happy. I’m not happy. I don’t know anyone who’s happy about this,” McMaster said.

On Sept. 10, McMaster unveiled his recommendations to the General Assembly for how phase two funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act should be invested.

Among those recommendations was $50 million to be reimbursed for public school districts and charter schools for COVID-19-related costs incurred by reopening.

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