COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Richland School District Two students will be heading back to the classroom for the first time this year on November 4 as part of the district’s phase two of reopening.
However, some teachers are saying that in-person learning will look much different than it’s ever looked before, and heading back to the classroom will come with its challenges.
“Teachers will do their very best and they are excited to have kids come back in one sense but really worried about what they are coming back to,” Chris Haas, a second-grade teacher at the Center for Inquiry, said.
A few teachers told WIS it’s been frustrating and difficult to get ready for November 4 because teachers will be responsible for teaching the students who are physically in the classroom, as well as students learning virtually from home at the same time.
Haas said he will be welcoming back the majority of his second graders on November 4.
“I’m excited for the idea of returning to normalcy, but I know what I’m returning to isn’t normalcy at all because I’m going to be sitting at a table in front of my computer screen while the kids in my classroom are going to be looking at me on their computer screens,” Haas said.
Richland Two’s second phase for reopening will allow students from kindergarten to fifth grade to return in person five days a week. Students from sixth through 12th grade will be on a hybrid schedule.
“Knowing that we don’t have a day for deep cleaning and we don’t have a day for planning to do even more work than before to me; it seems like we are set up for failure on a lot of levels,” Haas said.
Haas added that, in order to have his students spaced three feet apart, only 12 students should be in the class, but 16 are enrolled to return.
Steve Nuzum, who teaches high school English at a Richland Two school, said he has the opposite situation with only 10 of his 30 high school students opting to come back.
“Really, it’s going to continue to be online learning because the students in class will be physically there, but they will have to be doing the same assignments as the students at home,” Nuzum said.
Richland Two Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis said the district originally planned to begin phase two on October 26 but moved it back to November 4 because of DHEC’s COVID numbers.
“I saw that we were still trending downward. We just didn’t go as far as I thought we were going to go. I thought it was important for us to have an additional week,” Davis said.
Davis added that due to a teacher workday and a day off due to the elections, it was more practical to start on November 4, rather than the week prior.
Some teachers said they feel like the district has been pressured by state officials to head back to the classroom.
“But I’d like us to think more about what we’d like to do and rather what’s safe," Nuzum said.
Davis said that the district has been strongly encouraged by different state players to head back to the classroom for months, but Richland Two has always made decisions on the basis of the numbers.
Davis added that about 50% of their students said they are planning to come back in person, but parents have until October 19 to make a final decision.