Charleston Co. school board approves Sept. 8 start date, most likely virtually

Updated: Jul. 27, 2020 at 6:57 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School Board approved the district’s reopening plan on Monday that pushes the start date to Sept. 8.

The plan also requires students and teachers to wear masks and creates an all-year virtual option.

The new Sept. 8 start date doesn’t mean students will return to the classroom though. If COVID numbers stay too high in the county, the school district will start everyone virtually and transition to in-person classes when it’s safe to do so.

“For the most part, we anticipate opening in two modes: temporary remote and Virtual Academy,” Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait said. “We will offer in-person if possible. We monitor two-week data and bring information to the board monthly.”

The metrics guiding the timing of that are being developed in conjunction with medical experts. The state’s department of health bases their metrics on: Incidence rate per 100,000, trend in incident rates, and percent testing positive. The DHEC database is updated weekly.

“Our COVID rate is too high,” Postlewait said on Friday. “If I were to make this decision today, we could not start many, if any students, back in school.”

Postlewait said there is a chance some students could return for in-person instruction in September even if the case numbers don’t improve enough for everyone to return.

Charleston County must see a downward trend in COVID-19 rates over a 14-day period before the board will consider changing the operating mode, according to the district. Data will be reviewed every two weeks by staff and monthly by the school board.

Parents should be expecting to receive an enrollment form about their learning preferences sometime in the next few days. Here’s a draft form. The school district is looking to have those back by Friday to start organizing the upcoming school year.

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

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