NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - About 12,000 students returned for in-person classes Tuesday as Charleston County schools reopened for their first day.
For many, it was their first time returning to their buildings since the state closed schools in March.
The district’s other 35,000 students, which is about 75-percent of its total enrollment, logged on to kick off the new year. 600 of those virtual learners were at A.C. Corcoran Elementary in North Charleston. Principal Quenetta White said they welcomed back about 240 in person.
“We’re glad to have them back,” White said. “We feel confident that they are safe and can learn. So it is a challenge, but after seeing this morning, I believe the rest of the year is going to be great.”
Students across the county are required to wear masks all day from the moment they get on the bus or walk on to school property, and so far, White hasn’t had any problems with compliance.
“I think children are more compliant than adults," she said. “They have their masks on. They were excited about wearing their mask.”
Plexiglass has been installed in every classroom, hundreds of social distancing signs have been placed in the hallways, and cleaning crews have been working around the clock to sanitize and disinfect.
“Our custodial staff has a rigid schedule," White said. "Every hour on the hour, the cleaning crew is in the restrooms. They will also wipe down playground equipment.”
20-percent of every school is also fogged nightly and surfaces are cleaned throughout the day.
For virtual learning, students logged on bright and early, and their teacher taught from the classroom they would be in if not for the pandemic.
Teachers, equipped with “unmute” signs, worked from their stations at the front of the room, some teaching more than 20 students via Zoom.
White said she’s even logged into a few classes already.
“So I say, ‘Hi,’ and tell them I’m very proud of them for being on time," she said. "I was in on a third grade class, and there were 23 kids on Zoom, and they were focused, paying attention and enjoying seeing their teacher and classmates because it’s been a long time.”
The first two days of school are early release days, and if parents have any questions about back to school, the district has launched a hotline. They can call (843) 937-6366 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. all week.