Charleston County schools to bring back 5,100 more students for in-person instruction

Updated: Nov. 2, 2020 at 5:50 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County schools plan to bring back thousands of additional students for in-person instruction on Nov. 11.

During a special-called school board meeting Monday, Elementary School Executive Director Michelle Simmons announced more than 5,100 students currently learning virtually will be brought back in person next week. 3,500 of those students are in elementary school while about 900 are in middle school and 710 are in high school.

This means next week about 30,000 students will be learning inside a classroom. That’s about 70-percent of the county’s students. The other 12,000 students, or 30-percent, will continue the year online.

Some of the kids returning though will potentially switch teachers once they return to their school. This is because the district has created “clusters” for those who are continuing to learn virtually.

Those clusters are made up of schools that are near each other where the district is balancing out teachers with parent preference of in person or virtual learning. For example, in Mount Pleasant, eight elementary schools have been broken into two clusters of four.

“Let’s say I’m a school, and I still have 14 kindergartners who still want temporary remote, but my colleague down the road only has five kindergartners,” Simmons said. “It’s hard to dedicate a full-time teacher to five kids, so we can collapse those two groups into one temporary remote class.”

School Board Member Joyce Green then asked about why the district felt now was a good time to bring back more students.

“Starting small back in September allowed us the ability to shore up our processes, and now we’re still in a position where we can still adhere to that COVID capacity because we started so small," Simmons said. "What you will find building by building is that those buildings that started large, they’re only bringing back a few kids now, but those who started relatively small have the bulk of the numbers in terms of the children returning.”

The district is also looking to keep those students in their preference of learning for the remainder of the year, Chief Academic Officer Karolyn Belcher said.

“Assuming the virus levels stay steady, the hope is we’d be able to finish out the year in either remote option or in person depending on what the family has selected," Belcher said. "We want to make sure we’re minimizing to the extent that we can moving forward this moving, because it does disrupt learning. We also want to respect parent preferences.”

Parents should be notified by Friday of any new information in regards their child’s education. If they have any questions, Belcher said to email her at

The school board also voted to cancel their board meeting next Monday.

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