State Superintendent Molly Spearman approves six reopening plans, institutes mask requirement on buses

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced the approval of six school district reopening plans submitted to the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) and instituted a face mask requirement for students and staff on state owned school buses.

“The plans approved today offer parents high quality, innovative face to face and virtual options while keeping student and staff safety as their top priority,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “I commend these school communities for considering the latest scientific data and guidance along with the academic, social and emotional needs of students to make localized decisions. Our goal is for every school to return to five day face to face instruction as quickly as safety conditions allow. South Carolinians can support their neighborhood school by wearing a face mask, practicing social distancing, washing their hands regularly, and staying at home when sick. These precautions have the potential to significantly expedite our education system’s return to normalcy.”

The six school districts whose reopening plans have been approved are:

  • Allendale County School District
  • Anderson School District Five
  • Berkeley County School District
  • Saluda County Schools
  • Spartanburg County School District Two
  • Clover School District (York Two)

Plan Highlights:

  • Clover School District and Spartanburg District Two are offering elementary parents five day, face to face instruction through their phased in “Family Model” that includes enhanced safety protocols and keeping students together in cohorts to mitigate the spread of disease.
  • Berkeley County School District is offering parents a traditional five day, face to face instruction option, a “blended distance” option that incorporates online learning platforms with live stream learning experiences, and a self-paced virtual option utilizing pre-made online courses such as those offered by VirtualSC.
  • Allendale and Saluda County Schools have both hybrid and fully virtual options with strong communication procedures with students and families to ensure they stay on track. Both districts have inclusive frameworks on how they will serve special populations such as students with disabilities and English language learners.
  • Anderson Five will offer students and parents in-person instruction five days a week as well as the option of enrolling in the district’s new virtual academy that will be staffed by district teachers who will provide virtual support throughout the school day for students who choose to learn from home.

In order to be approved school districts must meet key criteria set by the SCDE. These criteria include – offering both a virtual and face to face option, a time frame to review operational plans to move towards full five day face-to-face instruction model, and the establishment of how high quality instruction and a broad range of student services will be provided. Unlike the emergency remote learning that was required during COVID-19 school closures, students participating in virtual options will have a daily instructional schedule, receive frequent teacher feedback, and face high standards for earning passing grades. The large number of South Carolina families choosing a 100% virtual option has enabled districts to safely offer face to face instruction with added precautions despite the high spread of COVID-19 in many communities.

To date, the SCDE has received 73 reopening plans and is awaiting plans from eight districts who were granted extensions. Detailed information regarding approved plans can be found by following this link.

 

Face Mask Requirement on School Buses

Superintendent Spearman is also instituting a statewide face mask requirement for all school bus riders, including students, drivers, and staff. The face mask requirement, in combination with following other mitigation strategies and cleaning procedures developed by the SCDE and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), will allow districts to increase ridership capacity up to 67%.

 

The SCDE and DHEC continue to expect and strongly encourage all students and staff to wear face masks within the school building.