Horry County parent raises concerns after plexiglass picture circulates on social media

Updated: Nov. 23, 2020 at 11:39 PM EST
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Some Horry County parents are on edge after seeing pictures circulating on social media showing plexiglass installations in one elementary school.

The picture shows about 15 desks, each one surrounded by plexiglass. Some parents posted in the comment section that the classroom appears to look very crowded. Others posted the opposite, in support of a bit closer space to allow a bit more student interaction.

WMBF News has not received permission to use the picture seen on Facebook, which is why it does not appear in this article or the video.

A Horry County Schools spokesperson confirmed with WMBF News, the photo appears to be from inside Aynor Elementary School.

The picture has caused a stir on social media and has been shared by a number of parents on Facebook, including Heather Turner, a South Carolina teacher who has a daughter enrolled in a Horry County elementary school.

Turner said her daughter is flourishing in the ‘brick-and-mortar’ program in elementary school and wants her to do five-days of face-to-face learning, but since seeing the photo on Facebook, she’s concerned about her child’s classroom now.

“I lost a lot of sleep over it,” Turner said about the picture of the plexiglass installation. “It is not appropriate socially, mentally, educationally, this is not appropriate.”

Turner has 12 years of teaching experience and feels some changes need to be made if the layout for Horry County Schools classrooms is reflective of the photo she discovered while scrolling on Facebook.

Turner said she’s disturbed by the layout of the desks and feels it isolates and separates students from one another, which she believes could have a negative impact on their educational experience.

“As an educator, I know it’s going to be extremely difficult to help students behind these barriers,” Turner said. “I was told by the district today they would be three feet apart. Well, when you have 24-26 or more kids in a classroom that are three feet apart, there is no collaboration, there is no group work. Everything is independent and how is one teacher going to take care of a classroom full of students.”

The South Carolina Department of Education spokesperson Ryan Brown said the layout for all classrooms, including Horry County, is based on DHEC’s guidelines, which he said will safely allow for full-time face-to-face instruction.

“You hear public health experts say stay six feet of apart, stay six feet apart, well If there’s plexiglass, students can be seated three feet apart and if one student were to test positive they will not be considered a close contact,” Brown said. “That requires [the school districts] to have that plexiglass properly setup and to be wearing a mask as well. I guess many parents would like their child to go to school five days a week. Without that plexiglass barrier, it is hard if not impossible for large school districts like Horry County to get that many students into their school buildings.”

“I’ve seen pictures from other districts,” Turner said. “From pictures I’ve seen from teachers within those districts, students were writing on the plexiglass boards, so they were able to collaborate together. I don’t see the same thing happening across the state and that upsets me.”

Turner said she’s continuing to make calls to state and local leaders, trying to get someone to hear her concerns about the plexiglass. Right now, she’s considering another program for her child for the upcoming Spring semester.

“I’m considering every option,” Turner said. " I’ve literally been racking my brain about what’s going to be best for my daughter that my family can accomplish.”

The spokesperson for Horry County Schools said the installation process just started and the photo circulating on Facebook may not reflect all classrooms, further adding that teachers will determine the final layout for the classroom.

Our news team is continuing to confirm who took the photos inside Aynor Elementary School, so we can share those pictures with you.

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