Under a plan adopted Monday night by Charleston County School District leaders, students will begin classes on Sept. 8, likely beginning instruction online with coronavirus continuing to spread across the Lowcountry.
In keeping with state leaders' request that districts offer in-person classes, the Charleston "Safe Restart" proposal offers in-person instruction if possible with the ability for parents to have kids start remotely and move to in-person later in the school year.
District Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait said the district is working with state Department of Health Environmental Control and Medical University of South Carolina officials to determine whether it is safe for students and employees to return to classes.
"We wouldn't propose opening any site for any students unless we have gotten the go-ahead from local medical experts," she said.
Postlewait said the district will offer in-person classes for select children, but for most, officials are preparing for classes to likely start online for most students, at least temporarily.
Under the plan approved Monday, parents have two options:
1) In-person instruction starting Sept. 8 (subject to COVID-19 cases declining) or a temporary remote instruction at-home.
2) Enrolling in the K-12 Virtual Academy, which requires a nine-week commitment for students in grades K-8 and a full semester for high school students.
Charleston County School District YouTube screenshot
In any case, face-to-face instruction is contingent on the number of COVID-19 cases, according to the superintendent.
"Whether or not we offer any in person on Sept. 8, even to very small groups of students are subject to the sustained continuous downward trend in the COVID-19 rates that we have begun to see in our area," Postlewait said.
The district will review COVID-19 data every two weeks to determine any changes in operations.
The plan discussed on Monday includes provisions for making classrooms safer for students when they do return to in-person classes as well as a 20-day deadline for notifying parents of any further changes to the school start date. State education leaders announced a mask mandate on Monday for students riding buses to school.
The proposal passed Monday by a 6-3 vote, with board members Chris Collins, Kevin Hollinshead and Joyce Green voting against.