HCS board members vote in favor of sticking with hybrid model until further notice

HCS board members vote in favor of sticking with hybrid model until further notice

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – The Horry County Board of Education made some major changes to its ‘brick-and-mortar’ learning program during its meeting Monday night.

The changes come after the Department of Health and Environmental Control placed Horry County in the ‘high’ spread level for COVID-19 for the past couple of weeks.

Based on Horry County Schools' original reopening plan, students would have to move back to five days of digital learning if they were in the ‘brick-and-mortar’ program.

But last week, the district decided to remain in hybrid learning because of the low number of COVID-19 incidents that directly affecting Horry County schools. The data was based on the HCS case dashboard that the district created that lists out individual schools and the number of coronavirus cases among students and teachers.

MORE INFORMATION | HCS Case Dashboard

Because of the evolving situation with the coronavirus, Horry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey laid out new recommendations moving forward, which includes looking at schools on an individual basis, rather than a district-wide implementation of rules.

“We don’t want to place anyone in jeopardy. If there is an instance where numbers look like there’s an uptick then we will respond appropriately, and deal with those areas as opposed to a system-wide shut down as far as distance ED is concerned,” Maxey said.

Another big change is having schools remain hybrid until five-day face-to-face learning can be implemented, or if there is an emergency, then the individual school has to go to digital learning.

“Therefore, that means there won’t be any announcements of what Horry County Schools is doing next week. We know what it is. If you’re in the virtual program you know what you’re doing, you’re in virtual. For brick-and-mortar you’re in hybrid unless there is a problem and then we will respond immediately to that problem to move to distance ED to provide for the safety of students and employees,” Maxey said.

The five recommendations are:

  1. Utilizing HCS case dashboard as an additional local data point for determining the instructional model to be used by individual brick-and-mortar schools;
  2. Utilize local data points that may be developed or become available in the future;
  3. Implementation of hybrid model for all brick-and-mortar schools effective Oct. 19, until the district is able to return all brick-and-mortar schools safely to five-day face-to-face instruction;
  4. Allowing a minimum of five calendar days to alert parents to a change in the instructional model unless an emergency at an individual brick-and-mortar school warrants an immediate change to the schedule. An example of an emergency would be if there is a hotspot that develops at the school or if due to quarantine, the staffing isn’t sufficient enough to where school can occur;
  5. Reaffirm that our knowledge and understanding of the covid-19 virus continues to evolve and our protocols and plans will be updated as appropriate, as more information becomes available.

The Horry County Board of Education voted in favor of the recommendations 11-1.

Maxey stated that the next step is to alert the state Department of Education that they have modified their reopening plan.

As for when students may start moving to five days of face-to-face instruction, Maxey stated that will take place in phases, starting with elementary school students. He said five days of traditional learning will be on the table after plexiglass has been installed for students inside schools.

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.