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SC Schools Will Reopen With Full-Time In-Person Classes But Parents Can Opt Out

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster says public schools need to make in-person classes available five days a week when they reopen.

South Carolina's public schools must reopen with in-person classes available five days a week, Gov. Henry McMaster announced Wednesday.

He said parents must be offered a remote-learning option if they don't feel safe sending their children to school.

South Carolina continues to see COVID-19 cases rise. But McMaster said in-person classes are essential for students’ health, safety and academic progress – and for parents to be able to work.

"We must do it safely, we must do it carefully, but we must do it," he said.

McMaster said he has instructed state Superintendent Molly Spearman to reject any district's plan that doesn't include full-time classes with a parental opt-out.

"If the parents want to send their child back to school, they should be able to do so, and to do so with confidence," McMaster said. "If the parents want to keep the child at home, they should be able to do that and do it with confidence."

The governor recommended -- but didn't mandate -- that schools reopen on Sept. 8, the Tuesday after Labor Day. He said that allows time to prepare for safe reopening.

His announcement comes one day after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper limited that state's public schools to a social-distancing plan that requires staggered schedules for most districts or to remote-only instruction.

The Palmetto State Teachers Association tweeted a response saying, in part, "if health conditions do not improve, it would be irresponsible and dangerous to require a return to full in-person instruction."

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