Aiken County school leaders answer back to school questions

CSRA News

AIKEN, S.C. (Ga.) – Aiken County students will head back to class either in-person or virtually on August 31. There is still a lot of work to do before that Monday but officials say they are doing their best to start school on the right foot.

“Yes, we’ve have had some reports of both students and staff that have tested positive,” said Monica Mazzell, Supervisor of Nursing and Health Services.

The exact numbers are being determined but administrators strongly encourage any student or employee that is waiting on a COVID-19 result when school starts to not to come inside a school building.

If a student or employee tests positive they will be sent home immediately to quarantine and are required to follow CDC guidelines. The State is requiring employees and students to wear masks in school and on the bus.

“In our summer program called Academic Recovery Program, ARC, we didn’t have problems with our students wearing masks,” said Jeanie Glover, Chief Officer of Instruction.

Transportation Supervisor Rasha Roland explained, “Our buses will still run those regular routes. Some routes will be slightly different depending on the capacity because we’re at a 66% capacity on buses.”

Some students will have a hybrid schedule, two days a week of in-person classes. While others opted for online-only learning. Virtual class sizes for elementary students are under 30.

“Secondary level, 150 is the caseload for a secondary teacher,” said Glover.

As for special needs student, LaToya Wiley, Interim Director of Special programs said, “We have 936 students with IEPs, individualized educational plans, that have partnered with us for AIKEN iNNOVATE. We have 267 students with section 504 plans that we’re working through. We strongly encourage parents to chose the hybrid option, if we’re unable to have a parent partner with us for AIKEN iNNOVATE.”

Elementary students will eat lunch in their classrooms if they’re at school but middle and high schoolers will eat in cafeterias.

“With the criteria that they social distance that they do assigned seats so they know who’s in there. And they’ll stagger students so they know who’s at lunch and when they’re at lunch. Same thing for the buses, assigned seats. Classrooms, assigned seats,” said Dr. Phyllis Gamble, Back to School Task Force Leader.

The deadline to withdraw from AIKEN iNNOVATE is Firday, August 14. The red and blue groups for in-person classes will also be announced Friday.

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