Board chairman to ask for three-week delay in start date for Horry County schools

Horry County School Board chairman to ask for delay in start date

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The chairman of the Horry County School Board has a message for parents and students – class will resume in the coming year.

“We will go back to school this year,” board chairman Ken Richardson said during a discussion on Facebook Live.

Richardson said the current school start date for Horry County is Aug. 17. However, he noted he is going to ask the board at a special board meeting Monday night to push the start date back to Sept. 8.

The board chairman said a task force has been assembled to ensure students and teachers can return to school safely for the 2020-2021 year. He noted they will start discussing how that will transpire at Monday’s meeting.

Richardson said he wants to see students in the classroom five days a week and being taught by a teacher. He stressed he won’t ask any educator to go into a class if it’s not the safest environment possible. That’s why he’s going to ask for the three-week delay in starting school.

“I promise the parents right now, when I send the kids back to school, I’m going to be there with them,” Richardson said.

Two weeks back, the school system sent out a parent survey to see if families preferred digital learning or a hybrid mix of learning at home and inside of the schools, which the board is expected to discuss during Monday’s meeting.

Veronica Napier took the survey and said she appreciates the school board seeking parents’ input for the 2020-2021 school year because of the COVID-19 threat.

“I felt like they were listening to us and care,” Napier said. “Like they want to do what’s right [for parents].”

But Napier said she hopes the board listens to parents’ concerns about the start date for schools, which she feels shouldn’t be happening around Sept. 8.

“I really wish they would hold off [on the start date] and wait,” Napier said. “My kids will not be there. My kids, they do better in school and I want them in school. But right now, I don’t feel like it’s safe. I can’t send my kids, I can’t do it.”

One parent who declined an on-camera interview and didn’t want to be identified by name said she’s OK with classes starting as scheduled on Aug. 17, as long as the school leaders feel prepared to keep her kids safe during the pandemic, particularly if the learning environment does happen inside the school walls.

Although some parents want the board to consider in-person learning options, some parents like Betty Harrstick said it’s too soon for her child to return to the classrooms, citing a fluid COVID-19 threat.

“I know everybody has a different style of learning,” Harrstick said. “I would feel comfortable with at least an e-learning situation and morphing into an hybrid, at least until the end of the school year, to see where everything is [with the pandemic].

Caroline Williams has one child in the Horry County school system. She’s concerned about sending her child anywhere, including schools, located in hot spot areas.

“I understand kids need to get back to school,” Williams said. “My daughter needs that one-on-one with teachers. But I’m scared. What if the [safety] precautions aren’t enough?”

Richardson previously said the board won’t do anything to put teachers, students and staff at risk during the pandemic and the members are doing their due diligence to make sure everyone is safe at the start of the school year.

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