Greenville County Schools will open doors for all elementary students in the traditional school program for five-day weeks, according to today’s announcement from Superintendent W. Burke Royster.
First graders will start their first full week in the classroom on Oct. 12, while K4 and K5 will be the next grades to make the socially distanced plunge, according to a news release. Additional space, plexiglass barriers, masks and a staggered schedule will be used to phase other grades outside of the district’s virtual-only program back to school.
“We’re pleased to announce another significant step towards safe, five-day in-person learning,” Royster said in the release. “This step would not be possible without DHEC Interim Director of Public Health Dr. Brannon Traxler’s willingness to approve a Plexiglas system of our design and specifically stating that students who are seated in this system are not considered to be close contacts with one another, as defined by DHEC for the purposes of quarantining.”
The S.C. Department of Education’s donation of $5 million in plastic glass will be used to divide tables, allowing four masked students to work at the table behind the barrier. Tables will be placed six feet apart, and all students over first grade will be required to wear a mask unless they have a medical or cognitive exemption.
“For the past six weeks, teachers in our traditional model have been supporting two instructional platforms: in-person instruction and online eLearning,” Royster said in the release. “Planning and delivering content over two platforms is very time consuming and presents both teachers and parents with multiple challenges. Those challenges are even greater for teachers and parents working with our youngest students. This plan will remove the burden of e-learning from our elementary teachers, return those students to daily in-person instruction, and provide a safe learning environment that protects the health of students and staff.”
Starting Oct. 12, 4K and 5K students will begin a phased return to classes on either Oct. 12 or 13, dependent on their designated color group; all will attend Oct. 14-15. After the following week, when all elementary students will attend from Monday to Thursday, five-day in-class attendance will be required.
Among the 3,800 Greenville County teachers who responded to a survey on protocol compliance in their respective schools, 83.5% said that school building occupants wore masks and maintained social distances without resistance, with some complaints that students have been less compliant than staff or faculty. While 82.1% of teachers felt safe or somewhat safe, about 51% felt comfortable with the idea of transitioning to five-day-a-week face-to-face teaching, according to a news release.o