COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Richland County School District One will keep students virtual until at least the end of January, district officials said Tuesday, citing high COVID-19 activity in the state.
The district initially moved back to eLearning when students returned from Winter Break. Officials hoped to go back to a hybrid schedule on Tuesday, Jan. 19 -- after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
However, in a letter shared with parents Tuesday, Superintendent Craig Witherspoon said the district “will remain in Phase 1 (eLearning) at least for additional two weeks, through Friday, January 29.”
Witherspoon said the district wants to keep things as consistent as possible for students.
He said officials are concerned some schools could reopen just to have to close again due to staffing issues.
It is possible for the district to remain virtual past Jan. 29.
Here is the superintendent’s full letter:
Dear Richland One Parents,
On December 14, 2020, we shared with you our intent of starting this calendar year in the Phase 1 (eLearning) mode due to the increases in COVID-19 incidence rates, positivity rates and trends, along with our concerns about the availability of staff. Prior to the winter break, there were staffing concerns at several schools across the district. Now that we are in the second week of January, we continue to monitor the health data and the other indicators that assist us in making informed decisions regarding how we continue to navigate the impact that COVID-19 has on the district as it relates to instructional delivery. Presently, we know that the incidence rates continue to climb, and we continue to assess staffing levels.
Given where we are at this point, Richland One will remain in Phase 1 (eLearning) at least for additional two weeks, through Friday, January 29.
The rationale for this continuation is as follows:
- We do not want to create a situation in which a series of schools may open only to have to close due to staffing concerns due to COVID-19 positivity rates, isolation and quarantine protocols.
- We want to maintain as much consistency as possible in a particular learning modality.
- Extending the return to eLearning also allows the district an opportunity to assess vaccination protocols for teachers and other staff.
Again, I appreciate all of our staff, students and parents for your understanding of the many complexities and challenges that we face due to the pandemic. We will continue to keep you informed as we move forward.
Sincerely, Craig Witherspoon, Ed.D. Superintendent