HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – For the first time in nearly a year, some students in Horry County Schools will be going back to class five days a week.
It was announced Monday night during the Horry County School Board meeting that those in the brick-and-mortar program at Horry County elementary schools will have five days of face-to-face learning starting on Feb. 8. Students will remain in the hybrid schedule for the first week of February.
Horry County Schools has spent several weeks spending that $5 million in an effort to make the schools safer.
Some of those improvements included equipping the buses with personal protective equipment, creating isolation rooms in nurses’ offices and converting water fountains to water bottle filling stations to reduce contact.
Perhaps the biggest change, however, is plexiglass dividers in all the schools, with the intent of eventually reopening the schools to five days a week.
“We did not spend $5 million on plexiglass to leave these children sitting at home,” said Horry County Board of Education Chairman Ken Richardson during the meeting.
“It’s a goal we’ve been trying to get to, and I think the plexiglass is going to allow us to do that,” said District 6 school board member Helen Smith.
The elementary schools were the priority for Smith.
“Elementary students, they don’t handle virtual school as well as middle and high school,” said Smith. “Elementary need a more structured program.”
Smith toured classrooms in two elementary schools just before the board meeting to see how students were responding to the change.
“I think the kids were happy because they called their little cubicle their office, and they were all handling it very well,” said Smith.
The middle and high schools will open to five days a week gradually. Each one will open when the plexiglass installation is finished.
If cases spike at a specific school or in a specific part of the district, the system reserves the right to close a school or return it to the hybrid model if necessary.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of people upset, talking about high numbers of COVID, but we are doing exactly what we said we are going to do,” said Richardson. “We are putting the kids back in school.”
This change will not affect students who have enrolled in virtual school for the second semester.
It is past the deadline for enrolling students in virtual school for the second semester, so families enrolled in the hybrid structure won’t be able to go virtual and avoid five days a week in person.
However, the district notified parents this change could be coming when they applied for the second-semester learning model.