Superintendent: Charleston Co. schools won’t reopen if COVID numbers don’t improve

Superintendent: Charleston Co. schools won’t reopen if COVID numbers don’t improve

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School Board approved the district’s reopening plan Monday, but it still needs one more vote before becoming official.

That plan includes a Sept. 8 start date, face mask requirements for students and staff, and an all-year virtual option.

Board members met over Zoom at 3 p.m. to discuss and vote on the newly-released plans, and only board members Kevin Hollinshead and Chris Collins voted against it.

The plan was created by a task force that met several times over the past couple months.

“The manner in which we restart will depend on the conditions that exist in our community,” Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait said.

She added the new start date gives the county more time to get its COVID numbers down.

“We must offer parents a choice between in person and virtual,” Postlewait said. “That doesn’t mean we would open schools if conditions are unsafe at the time, but we have to offer those options, so we can plan really well and open schools when it’s safe to do so.”

According to the proposal, teachers will report to work on Aug. 11, and parents will be given a 20-day advance notice of any subsequent change to the school start date.

“Testing for school faculty no more than two weeks before returning to work will be highly recommended,” the proposal stated. “Arrangements have been made with medical providers to offer testing free of charge.”

The proposal stated that all county parents and guardians will be given the opportunity to select between in-person school or virtual school for their child.

The board is set to meet on Monday, July 27 to hold its final vote on the plan. If approved, the district is asking families to confirm their choice (virtual or in-person) by Aug. 5, if possible.

Parents interested in the all-year virtual academy are asked to fill out an interest form by July 26, but it’s not required. Registration for this school will open at a later date.

Based on current analyses done by the district, at least 50-percent of the county’s schools, which have not yet been named, will be able to bring all students back to school for full-time, in-person instruction using social distancing protocols. The remaining schools will be able to bring back between 50-and-90-percent of their students for full-time, in-person classes.

The district is also set to spend millions on safety measures from plexiglass to contact tracing.

The full “Safe Restart” proposal can be viewed here.

School officials said on Sunday, even after a vote, 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,” spokesperson Andy Pruitt said.

The school board also approved a new sex education course. The meeting can be watched here.

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