COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Lexington-Richland School District Five Board of Trustees will hold a special-called meeting, Wednesday, December 2.
This comes after three high school buildings were forced to close because of a high number of teachers calling out on leave Tuesday.
As coronavirus cases continue to rise in our state, and those numbers expected to keep going up because of holiday gatherings, there was a special board meeting Monday night where LR5 school leaders were considering returning to more of a hybrid learning schedule.
Right now, the district is offering four days of in-person instruction each week, with one day of eLearning. There are growing concerns, though, about continuing with this model during the holiday season. A proposal was put forward to move seventh through 12th graders back to a hybrid model with more virtual learning days.
Monday night’s meeting ended before the board took any action on the decision. The next day, several teachers called out, forcing Chapin, Dutch Fork and Irmo High Schools into eLearning days because not enough staff members were available to open the buildings.
Ed White is a member of the LR5 Board of Trustees. He says teachers are, “working longer hours. They’re having to take on more responsibilities. They’re having to cover for each other as some go out on quarantine. They’re having to come in early to help clean, and they got all the normal stressors at home that everybody else has with the pandemic and, frankly, I think they felt like enough was enough.”
Parents say, it’s the students who suffer in all this back and forth, but White says teachers are being faced with a life or death decision.
“One of the teachers said it best. She said, ‘I love my job and I love the kids, but not to the point of dying,” said White.
He adds that there’s growing tension on the board with several new members.
“This was an action to try to bring relief and to stage it into more of a hybrid and by that action not occurring, it was basically the board members dictating what was going to happen operationally and that’s never a good thing when they start micromanaging the operations of a schools district. That’s the tension. That’s the reason so many people didn’t show up for work,” said White.
Wednesdays are already eLearning days for the district. So, the question is whether there will be enough staff members available to open schools Thursday.
Wednesday’s special-called meeting begins at the district office in Irmo at 4 p.m. The meeting will also be streamed online and there will be no public comment, which is standard for special-called meetings according to the district’s website.
Shortly before the meeting, there will be a student-led protest outside the district office at 3:30 p.m. Organizers say they don’t support four days of in-person instruction, which is what the district is offering now.