FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - The Florence School District One superintendent said he is prepared to face any potential consequences after submitting a back to school plan that didn’t include a five-day face-to-face learning option that the governor had suggested.
On Wednesday, Gov. Henry McMaster said he wants school districts to give parents the choice between face-to-face instruction or virtual instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. He also instructed the state superintendent to reject any plans that don’t include the option for face-to-face learning.
But instead, Florence School District One Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley provided a hybrid plan in which students will alternate days between being at home and in the classroom.
Despite Gov. Henry McMaster’s suggestion for all school districts to offer a five day face-to-face learning option, Florence School District One decided to provide a hybrid plan in which students will alternate days between being in the classroom. School board members praised his decision during a meeting on Thursday night.
“I have no reason to say I will put students in schools five days a week right now when everything else is telling me that is not how you start,” said O’Malley.
O’Malley added that the school district didn’t devise the plan on their own. He said they received guidance from local healthcare experts at McLeod, MUSC Florence, and Hope Health to make the safest decisions possible.
O’Malley addressed a number of concerns such as transportation, sanitation, and virtual learning.
Florence One is decreasing the number of students per bus by almost 50% and they’re trying to increase the number of buses to maintain social distancing.
The district has also ordered roughly $1.5 million worth masks, gloves and face shields, among other products.
“Anything you see at the private sector, at the grocery store, Home Depot, or Lowe’s being utilized, we’ll have it in our schools, if not more,” said O’Malley.
The school district is using funds from the CARES Act to pay for the supplies.
O’Malley said Florence is receiving $4.5 million from the CARES Act, and $4 million will go toward PPE, supplies, and technology and the other $500,000 will go toward the summer remediation program.
Some will be saved to be used following the fall semester.
O’Malley said depending on how many students choose the virtual learning option, they will need the CARES money to support the costs of the technology.
“Many people don’t realize that those programs and courses, virtually, if they’re not being taught by our teachers are about $1,200 per course, per person and you can see how quickly, given the extent of our population choose the IB program, how quickly that money can go,” said O’Malley.
The superintendent said the coronavirus must be taken seriously and they are doing everything possible to maintain health and safety.
”I want people to understand here that this is a healthcare problem it’s a crisis that is real. People are dying and it is real and we are taking it that seriously and then we are trying to put our educational system into a system that is going to be the best way to keep our staff and students safe and healthy,” said O’Malley.
Florence One will begin instruction beginning on September 8.