Lowcountry school districts update plans amid ongoing COVID-19 surge

VIDEO: Superintendent wants teachers at top of next vaccine phase; Lowcountry districts watch COVID

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Some Lowcountry school districts are modifying plans that could keep students in virtual learning for extended periods.

Dorchester County School District 2′s board announced Tuesday night that its students would remain in eLearning through the end of January. District officials say data shows COVID-19 activity in Dorchester County is spiking because of holiday traveling and gatherings.

Free food services will still be provided for students.

The Colleton and Georgetown County School Districts voted to keep their students in virtual learning models through at least Jan. 22.

Here is a quick rundown of all Lowcountry school districts with the latest plans they have announced:

  • BEAUFORT COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Face-to-face instruction began for Beaufort County students on Jan. 4.
  • BERKELEY COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: School board members are discussing the possibility of putting a mask mandate into place. Masks are currently “strongly encouraged” and students and teachers receive “mask breaks.” District officials may also consider allowing students who don’t want to wear a mask to learn virtually.
  • CHARLESTON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Charleston County was one of the only districts that started the new year with students learning in the classroom.
  • COLLETON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Students in Colleton County will continue learning virtually through Jan. 22. There will be no in-person classes. Teachers and staff members are working in schools during the virtual learning period.
  • DORCHESTER COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT 2: Students will remain in virtual learning through Jan. 29.
  • DORCHESTER COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT 4: DD4 officials decided students will remain in an eLearning model through Jan. 22.
  • GEORGETOWN COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Georgetown County students will continue to learn virtually through Jan. 22. Sports across the district will start back up about two weeks from now. The district is also revising its COVID-19 related leave policy for employees. It allows all eligible full and part-time staff members to receive emergency paid sick leave, as long as it’s related to COVID-19. That amounts to two weeks off for full time staffers. while part time employees will get leave in an amount equal to the number of hours worked in a two-week period. The leave policy runs through the end of March.
  • WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Virtual instruction will continue for all students in Williamsburg County School District through Jan. 22.

Meanwhile, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman wants Gov. Henry McMaster and the Department of Health and Environmental Control to move teachers to the top of phase 1B for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Teachers are currently a part of that vaccine phase, but Spearman wants them prioritized among the group so they receive the vaccine before anyone else in phase 1B.

Her argument is if teachers can get vaccinated, schools can open five days a week in-person, allowing parents to return to work.

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