Charleston County School Board to vote on school reopening plan Monday

VIDEO: School board to vote on reopening plans

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District is planning for virtual, in-person and hybrid learning options like many other districts across the state.

On Monday, the Charleston County School Board will vote on school reopening plans.

However, some parents and teachers are calling for another option that puts virtual learning at the forefront.

The Director of Communications and Technology for the district, Andy Pruitt, says families will have choices.

"We understand the concerns that parents have and we want to make sure that people understand that there are options, options for them that will suit their family's needs," Pruitt said. "We hear the message loud and clear and we are going to continue to incorporate that as we move forward."

The reopening plan outlines guidelines like mask requirements, a consideration for a start date on September 8, 'grab and go' meal plans, social distancing rules, 50 percent capacity for buses and limited capacity guidelines for some schools among other things.

"Extremely important moment in our history, especially in Charleston County when it comes to the safe education of our children and the precautions that we're taking to keep both our staff and our students safe," Pruitt said.

A Teacher of the Year at James Island Charter High School Megan Barbee is advocating for district-wide virtual learning for at least the first nine weeks of school and the original August 18th start date.

A survey she and other teachers created shows more than 1,500 teachers and staff support this plan.

"That's not something anyone can ignore that's such a huge part of your workforce," Barbee said.

They believe in-person learning could be an option after a major decline in COVID-19 cases.

"You know it's hard enough to keep them off their cell phones every day and enforcing social distancing just feels really daunting and extraneous to our job responsibilities," Barbee said.

She says being a teacher during the coronavirus pandemic has been a struggle.

"It's been the lowest point of my teaching career and I feel like I'm saying that for a lot of other people," Barbee said."Learning... it's inherently social and to be robbed of that essential component so abruptly....was not only stressful but it was depressing. It's all very counter-intuitive to strip down the curriculum to such a bare bones approach when we're often trying to prepare students for the next grade level."

School officials say even after a vote, school reopening plans can change based on the state of the pandemic and options are still on the table."You want to have a base that you can start at, say here's what we want to do based on what we know now, July, 20, and then move forward, knowing that we've got this base that we can operate off of and then make make changes as needed," Pruitt said.

Barbee says she wants to be back in the classroom when it's safe.

"We have our kids best interests at heart, we love them and we miss them and we'll do pretty much anything for them, except put our own lives at risk and inevitably put their lives at risk by being in an in person situation."

The school board is also considering a new sex education course Monday.

The board meeting will take place via Zoom and will be streamed on the CCSD Youtube Channel. It’s expected to begin at 5 p.m. tomorrow following the Committee of the Whole meeting at 3 p.m. where school leaders will also discuss reopening plans.

You can submit public comments here.

You can view the full “Safe Restart” proposal here.

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