HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Leaders with Horry County Schools have some tough decisions to make on what learning will look like when it’s time to head back to class for the 2020-2021 school year.
Discussions among school district leaders will start happening after the AccelerateED Task Force and South Carolina Superintendent Molly Spearman laid out final recommendations on Monday for all school districts, giving them the authority to determine what’s safest for their schools.
Horry County Schools Chairman Ken Richardson said the board is planning on all schools reopening as scheduled on August 17, but because of the ever-changing pandemic, he said it’s hard to say what kind of learning environment students will come back to in the fall.
“Right now, [Horry County] is one of the hot spots in the United States,” Richardson said. “We can’t just ignore the numbers.'
Richardson said the board won’t do anything to put teachers, students and staff at risk during the pandemic, especially when COVID-19 cases in the area are continuing to rise. So whether students return to the classroom or continue E-learning, Richardson said the board is doing their due diligence to make sure everyone is safe at the start of the school year.
“We’re preparing to go back to the classroom, business as usual, but we also have to be prepared if that doesn’t happen, how are we going to prepare our students, parents, kids for another virtual learning classroom,” Richardson said.
School leaders said the district created a “Horry County Education Task Force,” consisting of teachers, students, staff and board members, to find creative ideas for having in-person classroom styles while practicing the safety guidelines, which could include providing kids two outside recesses and bringing meals to students in the classroom instead of eating in the cafeteria.
But for now, nothing is definite. And some parents like Brandi Roberts want to make sure their opinions on this matter are heard.
Roberts has a daughter entering the 7th grade in Horry County Schools and she’s in favor of in-person learning for her child, and not virtual.
“My daughter, she’s [normally] an A/B honor roll student and she did not do well with virtual at all,” Roberts said. “I’m hoping they go back to regular class time. "
Roberts hopes a decision about the learning environment is made very soon.
Richardson said he feels for the parents in limbo, wanting definite answers about what the 2020-2021 school year will look like for their child. But until the district receives more specifics from DHEC and the state about what to expect in the coming weeks, Richardson says it’s a bit hard to know right now what decision is the safest for all.
“The bad thing about it is, we just don’t know,” Richardson said. “Everybody wishes certain things would happen but we just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The Accelerate ED Task Force is requesting all school districts notify parents, staff and school leaders about their finalized reopening date and learning style structure, at least twenty days before the first scheduled day of classes.