The South Carolina Department of Education announced July 27 that Berkeley County School District was among the first six school districts in the state to have a reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year approved.
State Superintendent Molly Spearman described in a press release the Berkeley County plan and others are “high quality and innovative,” while “keeping student and staff safety as their top priority.”
“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,” she said. “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.”
In an email to all employees, BCSD Superintendent Dr. Eddie Ingram thanked principals, teachers, parents, students and others for their work to help shape the district’s plan to offer online and in-person instruction.
“I want to congratulate and thank everyone who worked on this plan. It is a representation of many ideas that were expressed and brought forward. Also, it is a reflection of many hours of painstakingly hard work. Whether you played a role on a committee, helped on the task force, or provided feedback, please know that your efforts did not go unnoticed. I appreciate all who participated,” Ingram said.
As BCSD moves forward with planning, work will continue and a majority of the focus will become more school specific, the district reported. Principals are now working on individual plans that are practical for their buildings.
“As you know, we don’t have ‘cookie-cutter’ campuses,” Ingram said. “Each school is unique in design and will require different nuances to open safely when the time comes. We will continue to work hard to plan and to offer our support moving forward.”
BCSD was one of the first districts to submit a reopening plan, and its learning pathways meet the state criteria of “offering both a virtual and face to face option, a time frame to review operational plans to move towards a 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.”
Officials stated they believe that a large number of families choosing a virtual option will enable safer face-to-face instruction (with added precautions). Approximately half of BCSD’s families have selected a virtual option.
New calendar sets Sept. 8 start date
At the Tuesday, July 28 meeting of the Berkeley County Board of Education, a revised version of the 2020-2021 instructional calendar was approved.
The newly-revised and approved calendar has students returning to school (online and in-person) on Sept. 8. The approved amendment to the calendar also makes Nov. 25 a student/teacher holiday.
The calendar has all teachers returning to work on Aug. 31. Teachers working LEAP Days (K-8 only) will also work Aug. 17-21.