Horry County Schools will remain in hybrid learning model despite recent ‘high’ COVID-19 activity

Horry County Schools will remain in hybrid learning model despite recent ‘high’ COVID-19 activity

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Horry County Schools will remain in its hybrid learning model for the week of Oct. 19, despite the latest COVID-19 disease activity report for South Carolina showing Horry County remaining at a “high” level of recent disease activity.

According to the district’s instructional meter, “due to the low number of COVID-19 incidents directly affecting Horry County Schools, the District will continue to operate under the hybrid instructional model for the week of October 19, 2020.”

The weekly report from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control lists Horry County in the high category for incidence rate per 100,000 people, with 280.7. The trend in the incidence rate and percent positive are also both high.

For the latter, Horry County has a percent-positive of 17.9%, according to DHEC.

This is the second consecutive week where the disease activity report lists Horry County as high for recent COVID-19 spread.

Horry County Schools have been using this report to decide their weekly instructional plan. Since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, the district has been operating with a hybrid learning model, where students have two days of face-to-face learning, and three days of virtual learning.

Based on guidelines the district has been following, a “high” spread would move HCS to a fully virtual learning environment.

“Like any plan, it’s always good to review your plans often," said HCS spokesperson Lisa Bourcier. "And as new data and information does come in to review that information and perhaps change what those plans are.”

Some local parents, like Cindy Johnson, voiced their frustrations with the district’s latest decision. She added parents should have been given an option to make a different choice, based on the district’s original plan.

“I actually think it was irresponsible," said Johnson. "I don’t think it’s fair that the plan is changing without giving parents the choice to change what they decided to begin with. The disease spread in the community is high and when people leave school they don’t just go home.”

Other parents said they’re fine with the board’s decision, mainly because they feel more traditional instruction can take place safely.

“Mine really needs the 5-days of learning in class in order to thrive because he thrives in a school system," said Mary Lawrimore. "It’s not something that I can provide to him as a parent even though I would love to. I’m not able to quit my job and teach the way he needs to be taught.”

School board chairman Ken Richardson previously said the board would take into account numerous factors on Thursday when making that final decision. He says the process includes not only DHEC’s data report, but any information the district receives this week from the South Carolina Department of Education.

“We would support and encourage Horry’s decision to remain hybrid given the mitigation strategies in place and the success of other districts offering face to face instruction in similar circumstances,” according to a statement from a spokesperson with the S.C. Department of Education.

HCS said Supreintednet Dr. Rick Maxey will provide parents with additional updates about the brick and mortar program during the next school board meeting, which is scheduled for Monday.

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