More COVID cases reported at Horse Creek Academy; parent pleased with school’s response

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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — COVID-19 numbers are continuing to rise at Horse Creek Academy.

“I think has been the best environment for my children,” parent Felicia Williams told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk about the learning opportunities there.

Her sons Bryden and Braxton are a part of 1,100 who attend the school. “I moved them from the school where they were at because I just didn’t feel like they were getting everything that they needed. It’s definitely been a blessing for our family from day one,” she added.

School leaders are trying to continue being a blessing for “The Village” while dealing with COVID-19. Earlier this week, the school reported 700 students were quarantined with 77 positive cases. “Immediately once we started school, we started a couple of weeks before everyone else, we saw COVID numbers rising,” Horse Creek Academy Lead Learner Dr. Anne Marie Taylor shared. By Thursday, August 26, the number of positive cases was even higher with close to 90 positive cases.

More than 1,100 students quarantined in Aiken Public Schools

This time around, the delta variant has no age limit or favorite. “We’ve kind of seen it across the board all the way down from 4K through 10th grade,” Dr. Taylor revealed.

The school tries to social distance as much as possible, but it is still a challenge. “While we have small class sizes, the classrooms are not big enough for everyone to be six feet apart. So social distancing inside their pods is almost impossible,” she said.

Disinfecting and sanitizing schools is a norm for some schools, including the Academy. “We have a built-in podding scenario for each of the students. We revamped our related arts schedule so that we’re podding students together. Even despite all those efforts, the cases happened,” the Lead Learner added.

Currently, there is no set threshold number for making changes to learning. “We’re as a community, as a school board, and as a COVID team here on campus, are creating some of those within our own building. So we kind of know what to expect.,” she said.

Some school districts across the state are mandating masks, defying Governor Henry McMaster’s orders, but that’s not an option for the Academy.

The school will be face to face Monday, August 30 in spite of the rising numbers. “Even though we still have a number of staff out, we’re able to use all of our support staff and office staff to help with some of the substitute assignments. We’re going back because we believe that five days a week is most important,” Dr. Taylor said.

Meanwhile, Williams said that she is pleased with how the situation has been handled so far.

“It could happen to any school, so I think they did the best they could with the situation at the time and the options that were available. I think they made good decisions and making the proper choices.,” Williams added.


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