These teachers are hopeful the State Department of Education will approve Richland One’s three-phase reopening approach, but they’re worried they could be forced back inside the classroom before they believe it’s safe.
For now, the district is sticking with plans to begin the school year virtually, despite guidance from the governor and, more recently, the state superintendent of education to offer a face-to-face option.
A lawsuit filed in Orangeburg County requesting the temporary restraining order against the grant claims the state constitution says public funds cannot be given to religious or other private educational institutions.
Each school plans to move to in-person learning over time, but that letter from the Department of Education states that in-person, even a hybrid or blended model, must be an option in order to be approved.
“We shouldn’t have to put our lives on the line to be teachers,” said Nozsa Tinsley, a teacher at Center Inquiry School. “We love what we do. But, we also love our families, and we want to go home to them.”
A few districts, such as Richland Two and Lexington One, said that every positive case creates a domino effect in schools because every student who tests positive will have to quarantine for at least 10 days.
The reopening plan gives two options. One option is a phase-in model in which there are three phases for high risk, medium risk, and low risk. The second option is an R1 Virtual School Model for the entire year.