Safety is ‘guiding light’ for HCS board chairman while creating reopening plan

Safety is ‘guiding light’ for HCS board chairman while creating reopening plan

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The Horry County Schools board chairman sat down one-on-one with WMBF News and opened up about what’s being done behind the scenes to create a safe back to school plan.

Horry County Schools is one of eight school districts that has not submitted a reopening plan to the state. But, Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson said he’s not interested in being the first, he wants to have the best plan that keeps students and staff safe and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.

The district will present its final reopening plan during the school board meeting on Monday.

Richardson said the plan will be more detailed than what has already been released, including all district employees back at work in person on September 8

“If you work for the Horry County Schools system you’re going to be back working in your job whenever school starts back,” Richardson said. “We want the teachers back in the classrooms.”

Leading up to the meeting, Richardson said he’s been talking to health officials, teachers, parents and even the Horry County coroner about COVID-19 deaths.

Richardson said that parents have expressed concerns about not being able to take care of their children if the district moves forward with full-time virtual instruction.

“Safety has to be the key issue, that has to be the guiding light for me because I know this isn’t going to be a popular decision with half the people. Basically, 50% of the people want them in school regardless, 50% don’t want them in school regardless, so if I’m going to make somebody mad at least I’m going to do it safely,” Richardson said.

The chairman added that the latest numbers from the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the CDC show the rate of the coronavirus spread in Horry County is still high. He said with thousands of students’ and staff’s safety at risk, coming up with a plan takes time.

“Things will never be back to normal. There’s not a child that will ever look at a mask the same again,” Richardson said. “There’s not a teacher that when they hug their child won’t ever think about it differently than they use to because COVID-19 has changed everything for us.”

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