HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Leaders with Horry County Schools said a final decision has not yet been made about whether students enrolled in the hybrid learning program will return to the school grounds next week.
During a meeting Monday night, school leaders said the board will make a decision on Wednesday, giving parents the required minimum five-day notice required by the South Carolina Department of Education.
“We have until Wednesday to let the parents know to give them [notice],” said Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson.
In December, the school district announced hybrid students would move to remote learning for two weeks after returning from winter break. The district originally stated those students would return to the classroom on Jan. 19. Leaders cited concerns about staff shortages due to some employees having to quarantine after the holidays.
The district originally stated those students would return to the classroom after Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. But now school officials are learning more students and staff members tested positive for COVID-19, even after the winter break ended.
“We are in the process of monitoring the data,” said Velma Allen, Chief Officer of Student Services for Horry County School District. “Since the winter break, we’ve seen an influx of information. We’re still getting reports from our students and from our staff. So we have added all that to the COVID-19 Case Dashboard. We have been adding since the winter break but it continues to come in larger groups. When you look at the dashboard, you may see there’s a very big increase in historical data because some of our employees and students did experience a COVID-19 positive test results over the holiday and are now back and ready to attend school or back to work, but we were not notified at that time. We want a chance to meet tomorrow and discuss that as a group before we make a final decision about that.”
Allen said the district will make a final decision about hybrid learning after reviewing that data.
The district also provided an update for families wanting to know how much closer hybrid students are to be on the school grounds five days a week.
School officials previously stated, they’d consider full-time face-to-face learning, after plexiglass installations were completed inside the schools, starting first on the elementary school level.
During the work session, the district reported plexiglass installations are completed at 19 out of the 28 elementary schools.
School leaders expect all elementary school plexiglass installations to be completed by Monday of next week.
Richardson was asked how soon full-time face-to-face instruction could begin. He made it very clear, he hopes it happens this month.
“It’s time to get the kids back in school,” Richardson said. “They need to be back in school. "
The elementary schools with completed plexiglass installations include: Aynor, Burgess, Carolina Forest, Conway, Daisy, Forestbrook, Green Sea Floyds, Homewood, Kingston, Loris, Myrtle Beach Early Childhood, Myrtle Beach Primary, Ocean Bay, Palmetto Bays, River Oaks, Seaside, South Conway, St. James and Wacammaw.