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School District reopening plans slated

Plans for reopening school were discussed by the Abbeville County School District Board of Trustees during a special school board meeting Thursday night.

Interim superintendent Dr. Mason Gary presided over the meeting, in which a school reopening plan was presented -- a plan which at press time the District was planning to present to State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman.

Under the model, students will physically attend schools, except for those students who register for the iTech academy, according to information from the School District.

All K4-8 grade students will be offered the opportunity to meet with their teacher one or more days before the start of school on August 17.

K4-8 grade teachers will have professional development the week of August 3-7, and high school teachers will go through professional development August 10-14.

Electronic foggers will be used to disinfect facilities biweekly, and buses will be disinfected with foggers between routes and at the end of routes, the District plan states.

The School District will follow DHEC guidance regarding the management of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Hand sanitizers have been placed around the facilities, and masks will not be required but will be provided if requested from teachers and students.

Personal protective face shields will be available to all teachers, and protective shields are being installed in the reception areas at all locations, the District plan states.

Information on the District's plans for reopening schools can be found on the District website.

That information includes state level announcements.

Gov. McMaster has recommended that school districts have the option of in-person learning five days a week beginning Sept. 8, according to the website.

That recommendation came on July 15, and on July 16, Superintendent Molly Spearman stated that for any school district reopening plan that includes a hybrid or distance learning model, devices must be provided for those students.

In addition, local school boards will retain control of the school calendar.

For Abbeville County School District to follow the Governor's perspective, the kids have two choices: going to in-person class five days a week or participating in the iTech academy, school board chairman James Tisdale, Jr. indicated Friday.

Concerns over reopening schools for the fall semester have not been unique to South Carolina, according to the national news.

Throughout the country, educators and political figures are looking to find a balance between education and safety in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

Schools throughout South Carolina closed in mid-March, with the pandemic looming, and remained closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Months later, the outbreak has not gone away. Indeed, in South Carolina the number of cases has been spiking in a sort of summer surge that has affected much of the nation, most notably Sun Belt states such as Florida, Texas, and California.

South Carolina has thus become a "hot spot" of the coronavirus.

"The pandemic is out of control, if I look at the numbers in the Lakelands area," said Tisdale on Friday.

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