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Georgetown Co. superintendent points to staffing, safety as more schools move to virtual learning

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 7:54 AM EDT
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GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WMBF) - The Georgetown County School District superintendent is weighing in as more schools in the district make the move to temporary virtual learning.

After juggling both in-person teaching and virtual instruction for students at home, GCSD has decided to shift Georgetown High, Georgetown Middle, Carver’s Bay High, and Andrews High all to virtual learning until Sept. 7.

The district also announced Tuesday morning that Rosemary Middle will begin virtual instruction beginning Wednesday, Sept. 1. Students tentatively will return to in-person learning on Wednesday, Sept. 8. Staff will reassess and determine by Friday, Sept. 3, if the anticipated date for return needs to be extended.

Georgetown High has the most current student quarantines in the district at 475, with another 35 positive and in isolation.

“When our teachers are trying to exist in both worlds, it makes it very very difficult. So unfortunately, we made a decision to move those schools to a virtual setting to get us through the end of the week,” Georgetown County School District Superintendent Keith Price said.

While in temporary virtual learning, all athletic events and practices are canceled.

Price said he understands this isn’t an easy decision to make. Late last week, the decision was made to keep McDonald Elementary students home too.

But Price noted that staffing played a part in this decision.

“We’re exhausting our substitutes and our support staff from other areas to come into a building and help keep it running, and we get to the point where we’ve exhausted all of those and we’re starting to make decisions that would compromise the safety of that school then we have to make that decision,” Price said.

But for the latest round of schools, a bigger aspect was the amount of students who were already learning from home.

“It’s getting really close to between 45 and 50 percent of the students moving into quarantine in that school so when you combine quarantines and isolations from positives, you’ve got half of the students in school and half at home,” Price said.

Price added the district does not have an estimate of how many teachers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. They aren’t asking staff to report their status. However, if asked to quarantine due to a close contact, faculty can provide that information in order to keep them in the classroom.

While the four schools are scheduled to be back for in-person learning on Sept. 7, Price said each school’s virtual learning period could get extended if there are more cases and quarantines. Some schools might head back in-person, while others could stay back. He said they would try to let parents know by the end of the week.

The GCSD COVID-19 dashboard can be found here.

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