South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s call this week for schools to fully reopen with in-person classroom instruction is being criticized by many in the state, and officials in Rock Hill are ignoring the governor and moving forward with their own plans.
School board chair Helena Miller said members unanimously voted Thursday night in favor of a mixture of in-class instruction and remote learning.
“The desire of the district is in line with the governor and we absolutely want all of our students and staff to be in the buildings,” Miller said. “We feel the best way for students to learn is in the classroom. But given where the numbers of COVID-19 are for our school district that is not feasible right now.”
Currently, York County has more than 2,100 confirmed COVID-19 cases, but state health officials estimate the actual number may be closer to more than 14,000. The school board’s plan calls for students to return to school in late August on a rotation schedule, with two days in the classroom and virtual instruction on two days. Miller says Mondays will be reserved for those needing additional support. She says desks will be six feet apart and students will eat meals in class.
“There are no good solutions,” she said. “There is no plan that will satisfy everybody so this is a way of taking a look at all facets and coming up with what’s best for all.”
Miller says she has heard from about 300 teachers and says the “overwhelming” majority of them favor virtual learning. Many teachers were outside the school board office as members voted on a reopening plan, with signs criticizing the governor’s call for schools to reopen with five days of classroom instruction.
As for going all remote, Miller said, “All virtual would be a bigger challenge, especially for those without access to the internet at home. We have students also who really need face-to-face support and it would pose a challenge to our working parents and single parents.”
Miller said she believes the district’s teachers and staff are comfortable with the board-approved plan, and that the key to moving forward with the district’s reopening is flexibility and patience as the pandemic evolves.
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