AccelerateED lays out some S.C. back-to-school protocols

Published: Jun. 11, 2020 at 10:51 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - During the next two months, school systems across South Carolina will prepare to reopen safely after closing their doors in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

AccelerateED, which is made up of education leaders from throughout the state, met virtually Thursday to discuss how that will happen.

As coronavirus-era graduations wrap up across the state, school systems are now starting to figure out how to best serve their current students.

That process starts with AccelerateED.

“Our primary focus, concern and need is to ensure safety," said AccelerateED Instruction Committee Member Patrick Kelly. "Step two is to communicate to the public how those steps have been taken.”

Patrick Kelly and the AccelerateED Instruction Committee came up with a plan to safely restart the education process.

The committee is recommending schools survey families to find out who is comfortable with having students back in school, and who intends to keep their students at home.

They also wants schools to schedule several days to practice distance learning.

“What we did over the last three months really wasn’t distance learning so much as it was emergency deployed instruction," said Kelly. "Because we couldn’t get in front, we were just trying to triage and did the best we could.”

Horry County Schools has already started improving its distance learning set up.

“In our discussion regarding the CARES money, we’re using a portion of that money to increase our PDL (personalize digital learning) ratio to a one-to-one ratio so all students will have access to a virtual education if the need arises,” said Horry County Schools Board of Education District 9 Member Chris Hardwick.

The building and student services committee stressed the need for a full-time nurse at every school and pointed out that 166 schools in the state don’t have the equivalent of a full-time nurse.

They’ve also addressed the need to space students out, but admit some schools may have challenges doing that.

“Buildings that were built several decades ago, the square footage is a lot smaller than what we’re seeing now,” said AccelerateED Building and Student Services Committee Member Chuck Saylors.

The building and student services committee created classroom layouts that exercise social distancing and intends on passing those along to local districts.

Hardwick said the district is working on ways to track which employees are in the high-risk category so they can make sure they can keep them safe. He added that will likely be discussed at the next school board meeting on Monday.

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