Orangeburg County Schools switching to all-virtual learning through winter break

Orangeburg County Schools switching to all-virtual learning through winter break
(Source: WCSC/WIS)

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WIS) -The Orangeburg County School District announcing Saturday that it will transition to a 100% virtual learning model through Winter Break.

This comes after COVID-19 has continued to spread at a high rate over the past several weeks among teachers and staff.

Last Friday, district superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster said he had to move two schools to virtual-only because too many people had come in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19

“I had to move two schools into complete virtual total. One school we had an impact total of close contacts and having to isolate and positives 10 people. And at another location, 25 people were impacted,” Foster said.

In total, 551 students and faculty in Orangeburg schools have had to quarantine because of COVID-19, according to the district.

And the county itself is considered to have a high infection rate, according to DHEC.

Foster said he ultimately made the decision to keep schools closed through the holidays after consulting with his medical team.

Teachers say they support the decision but know it comes with a sacrifice.

“We can not replace the teacher nor the student relationship that they have with each other face-to-face…we really love our students, we love having our students...but in light of it all we have to remain safe,” said teacher and S.C. Education Association President for Orangeburg Elizabeth Humphrey

Humphrey and Foster both said they hope this decision has far-reaching benefits.

“Going 100 percent virtual we hope that will decrease the numbers that’s going on in our community,” Humphrey said.

The learning days for students on Monday, December 7th, and Tuesday, December 8th, will include recorded lessons, with no live-instruction.

According to officials, this will allow Orangeburg’s educators to transition their teaching environments from the schools to their homes.

Starting on December 9th, students and staff will begin live instruction.

Thursday, the district suspended all athletic practices and competition until further notice after four student-athletes tested positive for coronavirus, leading to the quarantine of their entire teams and coaching staff.

Since March, 276 students and 275 School District employees have been quarantined because of this virus.

Some due to their own positive COVID-19 results, others because they were identified as “close contacts” to a positive case, or who experienced symptoms suggestive of the virus.

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