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Charleston County School District removing plexiglass barriers ahead of new school year

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 3:16 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2021 at 8:16 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - After spending millions of dollars on plexiglass barriers to separate students amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the Charleston County School District is in the process of taking those barriers down before students return to class.

Around 80% of the barriers have already been removed, said Jeff Borowy who is the district’s chief operating officer. He said they had worn out and had lasted about as long as expected.

“The plexiglass had served its useful purpose, and having it sit in place for the entire year we had a lot of scratching, a lot of cloudiness in the plexiglass, it was really becoming, started to become a detractor for the education of our students,” Borowy said. “And so the decision was made to begin removing that plexiglass earlier this summer.”

The move follows significant input from teachers.

Last year, the district spend $3 million to purchase and install the clear plastic partitions to divide students when social distancing measures were not feasible. The purchase was part of a $6 million effort to keep kids safe for in-person learning.

At the time, Borowy called it a “game-changer” that allowed the district to increase classroom capacity by 40% amid the pandemic.

The dividers are set to be recycled, but a “little bit” will be kept to use as needed, district spokesperson Andy Pruitt said.

There will still be a number of steps in place to reduce the spread of the virus this school year, including enhanced air filtration systems and cleaning protocols, but another item designed to slow the virus’s spread – masks—can’t be required in classrooms under legislation approved this summer at the state level.

“As far as the cleaning standards that were set up in the COVID days last summer, we’ve allowed those to be turned down a little bit,” Borowy said. We’re still going to maintain our cleaning standards in the schools for things other than COVID even.”

Dorchester District Two , Georgetown County and Orangeburg County Schools have all removed the barriers from classrooms but say they can be added in if requested.

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