On July 22, Spartanburg School District 4 released its updated 2020-2021 return to school plan offering a hybrid model with two days of face-to-face instruction and a fully virtual option. The South Carolina Department of Education approved the district’s plan on July 31.
Parents had until July 31 to choose which option they wanted for their child.
School will start on Aug. 17 for both those who are attending virtually or in person.
For virtual learning, students in grades 6 – 12 will use Google Teaching. Apex Learning will be used for English, Math, Science and Social Studies. The virtual learning plan is expected to last the Fall semester. It could be reviewed every nine weeks, but as with much else, that plan is tentative, according to Dr. W. Rallie Liston, the district’s superintendent.
While Dr. Liston emphasized the need for flexibility regarding dates and schedules, he also spoke of the need for prudence: health, education, moral and ethical. There were so many factors to consider and to try to address as many needs as he could.
Buses will operate and students must wear a mask while being transported. The South Caroling Department of Health and Environmental Control will allow buses will be at 67% occupancy. Once in school, masks will be highly recommended, and required in the hallways and common areas.
Should there be a COVID-19 outbreak, it will be evaluated to determine the source and the proper measures that will be taken. A classroom would be shut down if it reached the threshold of 20% of the classroom being infected, which would mean five positive results. The whole school would shut down in the event 10% of the student body were to be infected.
Dr. Liston referenced research that shows primary and elementary students will be easier to socially distance than students in grades 6 – 12. This being that as children get older, they tend to want to spend more time interacting with friends.
Along with measures of social distancing and the use of masks, additional cleaning and disinfecting will occur throughout the schools. Dr. Liston expects to hire more staff to assist with this new measure and areas of focus will be the restroom and classrooms. The school will be cleaned thoroughly at the end of the day in preparation for the next day. For middle and high school students, who move from class to class and wish to wipe desk in each class they attend, they are welcome to bring wipes from home. The plan is to have housekeeping staff go into classrooms wiping them down during teachers’ planning period.
Lunch will be served from the first day of attendance, but the challenge is to find a way the cafeterias can offer lunches that will allow the least amount of contact with others. An option for K-5 students is prepackaged lunches they can eat at their desks, while the higher grades may have the option of buffet style lunch. Other options are still being considered. The breakfast program will begin on Aug. 19.