COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After two highly contentious meetings, the school board for Lexington Richland School District Five has decided to revert some schools to a hybrid learning model, taking more students out of the classroom.
The board made the decision due to staffing concerns and the spread of COVID-19, passing the motion with a vote of 6 to 1.
The motion will only affect students in grades 7 through 12. They will return to a hybrid schedule under which they have more virtual learning days and less time in the classroom.
This will go into effect Monday, Dec. 7 “or whenever feasible.” It will last through the holiday break.
The motion will not affect elementary school schedules.
Before and during the meeting, students who support more virtual learning days gathered to protest outside, holding signs at the windows for board members to see.
This all comes as COVID-19 cases among students and staff at schools across the state, and in LR5, have sharply increased.
District officials said from Nov. 19 to 24, the number of high school students in quarantine went from 200 to more than 330.
Superintendent Dr. Christina Melton said in addition to the rise in COVID-19 cases among students, staffing is the biggest problem.
The number of faculty and teacher absences is exceeding the number of replacements available.
“We are concerned about our staff being stretched too thinly and that’s compromising the safety for our students, the safety for our community through these operations,” said Superintendent Dr. Christina Melton.
The move will last until after the district’s winter break is over, so district officials can continue to evaluate the situation. This decision also will allow the district to increase distance learning and contact tracing.
“This is a small window to let them get rested and take have the group in there at a time, it easier to manage,” said Jan Hammond, the board chair.
“Students I want you all to hear me say, this board ran for you, this board supports you, this board works very hard for you, and because of them we are able to provide the quality education that all of you have,” said Superintendent Melton.
The district also presenting data to the board showing 487 LR5 students in quarantine over COVID-19 concerns, as of December 1st.