Horry County School Board chairman says starting school after Labor Day will help ensure safe return

Questions remain about start date for Horry County students

CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson said he thinks students should not go back to school on Aug. 17.

Instead, he wants to push the start date back until after Labor Day to Sept. 8.

Richardson said because of how quickly things have changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, those extra three weeks are needed to make sure Horry County Schools officials can make the best decision on how to start the 2020-2021 school year.

He said over the past few weeks, the state of coronavirus in South Carolina looks different than it did a few months back, so he knows the status of the state’s response can change again.

However, Abbie Brown, a parent whose child is starting kindergarten in the fall, said she doesn’t mind waiting those three weeks. Howver, she feels the school board has had months to figure out a safe way to return to school.

“You know we’ve seen how difficult the distance learning is, how tricky that is for both the educators and students so I think at one point we’re just gonna have to figure out a way to get the kids back in the classroom,” Brown said.

She added it’s frustrating not knowing what environment her son could be in when the school year starts, if they allow in-person classes to resume.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said school districts reviewing policies for the upcoming school year should have a goal of safely returning kids to classrooms and not figuring out how to make distance learning better.

Richardson said those three weeks will help get children back in front of a teacher.

“But if I got those extra three weeks, the way things are changing, I’ve got a lot better possibility of getting kids back in school face-to-face five days a week, by giving me those extra three weeks. That doesn’t mean given these three weeks we’re gonna put the kids back in the classroom, but it does mean it gives me a better chance to make a better decision,” Richardson said.

He said right now, details like what would happen if a staff member tests positive for the novel coronavirus are not known. At Monday’s HCS board meeting, they’ll hear results from the survey sent to parents and start looking at those details.

According to Richardson, that’s why they need extra time. He said he also knows not everyone is ready yet.

“You know, there’s still gonna be an option there. Children do not have to go face-to-face back in the classroom if we put them there. They can still do virtual school. We’re gonna have things set up to do K-12 for virtual school,” Richardson said.

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