Superintendent: Charleston Co. schools could reopen to 50% of students by Sept. 21

VIDEO: Superintendent: Charleston Co. schools could reopen to 50-percent of students by Sept. 21

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait said Monday that Charleston County still falls in the “red zone,” meaning only 25-percent of students can return to in-person classes on Sept. 8.

If the county moves into the “yellow zone,” then more students would be allowed back, Postlewait outlined during this week’s board meeting.

“We just need to be in the safe margin to bring children back into facilities,” Postlewait said. “If the rate per 100,000 goes down, we think we can do that by Sept. 21. It is too late to make that change for Sept. 8.”

The metrics that create green, yellow, and red zones will be based on three factors: two-week incidence rate, trend in incidence rate, and two-week positive rate.

The district will then use a point system to decide when more students should be added.

  • If a factor has a “low” rating, it’s considered in the green and will get two points.
  • If it has a “medium” rating, it’s considered in the yellow and will get one point.
  • If it has a “high” rating, it’s considered in the red and will get no points.

Phase one, which is underway right now, is when the county has two points or fewer. Both the two-week incidence rate and the two-week positive rate remain in the red zone (zero points) while the trend in two-week incidence rate has moved to the green zone (two points).

Phase two is when there’s three points, and in that case, the district will reopen to 50-percent in-person attendance. Phase three is when there’s four points or more, and in that case, in-person will be open for all families who want to return. Virtual will always remain an option for those who don’t.

For schools to open to more students, the metric rating would have to hold steady over two consecutive weeks.

If more students wanted to return then a school could safely allow, objective criteria would be used along with a lottery system in determining that, Chief Academic Officer Karolyn Belcher said Monday.

Student schedules are also being sent out to families this week. All parents and students should be notified, if they haven’t already, by Friday, Aug. 28.

During this same meeting, the school district announced it’s getting ready to launch its “dashboard.” This is where all positive COVID-19 cases will be listed by school once the year starts. After nurses are notified, district leadership will determine if or when closure is necessary.

The first day of school is still set for Sept. 8, but the school board did approve making that day and Sept. 9 early release days.

Once students and teachers get on the bus or to school though, they’ll be required to wear masks. At this time, gaitors, bandanas, and neck scarves will not be allowed.

The meeting came after the district made major changes to its all-year virtual program after almost 12,000 students enrolled. The Virtual Academy was designed to be its own independent school within the district, but because of the unexpected demand it’s now going to be combined with the “temporary remote” option at the beginning of the year for elementary school students.

“We weren’t expecting to have this much more than our expected enrollment,” Belcher said last week.

The meeting can be watched here.

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