CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise across South Carolina, several Lowcountry school districts are adjusting their schedules temporarily to virtual learning.
Here is a list of Lowcountry school districts and individual schools that have made the switch to virtual learning models.
Charleston County School District
The Early College High School has switched to full virtual instruction. That school made the switch last Friday, a decision school officials attributed to the number of positive COVID-19 cases at the school and the number of students were under quarantine. The school says it plans to return to in-person instruction on Sept. 10.
Sullivan’s Island Elementary switched to virtual instruction beginning Wednesday for two weeks. Plans are to return to in-person on Sept. 15. “Please know that the district will do extensive, additional cleaning of our building, including 100% disinfection fogging tonight, which will allow our staff members to teach remotely from their classrooms, beginning tomorrow,” school officials said.
Charles Pinckney Elementary switched to virtual instruction beginning Wednesday for two weeks. Plans are to return to in-person on Sept. 15. “This decision is based on the number of positive COVID-19 cases associated with our school and the number of students quarantined as close contacts,” school officials said.
Murray-LaSaine Montessouri, Chicora Elementary and Ashley River Creative Arts Elementary Schools will switch to virtual instruction beginning Thursday for two weeks. They expect to resume in-person classes on Sept. 16.
Charleston Development Academy, a charter school, is also going virtual, according to Charleston County School Board member Kristen French.
All of the district’s other schools are operating in person.
Dorchester District 2
The Dorchester District 2 School Board has voted to move district schools to seven days of virtual learning from Sept. 7 through Sept 15. They will be back in school on Sept. 16. The board was presented with three options by administration to temporary go virtual.
Dorchester District 4
Dorchester District 4 Superintendent Dr. Kelvin Wymbs released a letter to parents Monday stating the district will observe e-Learning days this Thursday and Friday, and then starting on Sept. 7, the district will temporarily switch to virtual learning indefinitely.
DD4 schools will distribute devices and hot-spots to students prior to Thursday, the letter states.
Teachers will post or email learning plans, assignments and schedules for parents who need to pick up additional material sor supplies.
Colleton County School District
As of Monday, the Colleton County School District is operating with virtual learning only. It became the first district in the Lowcountry to switch to virtual learning.
The district sent a release last Friday saying they were moving to completely virtual learning for two weeks because of “the continued spread of the contagious COVID-19 delta variant” in the community and schools, and because of a continuous increase in the amount of district staff and students in quarantine.
In the release, Colleton County School District Representative Sean Gruber cited the virus’s impact on school bus drivers and substitutes as a reason to return to virtual learning.
The district estimates they will return to in-person learning on Sept. 13, but Gruber says they will reassess the impact of COVID-19 on students and staff on Sept. 10. they will then determine if an extension of the remote learning period is necessary.
Georgetown County School District
The Georgetown County School District announced four of its schools will switch to virtual learning on Tuesday.
Georgetown Middle, Georgetown High, Andrews High and Carvers Bay High Schools will all switch to temporary virtual learning beginning Tuesday.
While in temporary virtual learning, all athletic events and practices will be canceled.
The remainder of the district are not affected by the announcement.
Trident Technical College
Some Trident Technical Colleges are virtual only as of Thursday. Virtual instruction will continue through Sept. 19.
The college posted a full list of the classes affected on its website.
The following school districts have NOT yet announced plans to go to virtual learning:
Berkeley County School District
Beaufort County School District
Williamsburg County School District
Students at all schools will be off on Monday because of the Labor Day holiday.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported a three-day total of more than 16,000 new cases of COVID-19 Monday. DHEC only releases new case totals on weekdays and releases data on a 48-hour delay. That means that Monday’s release included test results from the previous Thursday through Friday.
The latest school data from DHEC listed 1,679 cases among students and 226 cases among school employees, for a total of 1,905. But those figures do not agree with individual school district data because DHEC acknowledged last week a discrepancy between the numbers it reports and those released by individual school districts.
“We are only including the individuals who physically attended school or school events on a regular basis,” DHEC Director of Public Health Dr. Brannon Traxler said. “During that time, they are infectious. But any students or employees who participate in virtual only instruction, without a physical presence on campus are not included in our numbers.”
She said some school districts are choosing to report all cases for students and employees, even those who are virtual only. She also said some schools may self-report cases before that data is sent to DHEC, which would also account for differences in numbers.
She said DHEC is exploring additional options in how they report case counts, but said during a media briefing on COVID-19 that the agency does not want the numbers and details “to get lost on the big picture.”
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