Gov. McMaster, Superintendent of Education Spearman announce school closure for rest of school year

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WJBF) — NewsChannel 6 is learning new information about the status of South Carolina public schools.

“We will decide not to reopen the schools fall the rest of the school year,” South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said Wednesday morning.

The governor and Education Superintendent Molly Spearman answering the question once and for all that many with students in South Carolina school districts wanted to know.

“It’s the best decision for South Carolina, for our students, for our teachers and our staff just to wait until next year, make sure everyone stays safe and healthy. It was definitely the best decision to make,” parent Lisa Christie said.

Online instruction will continue with the governor giving flexibility statewide for those who need additional help or have special needs. Students would be allowed to go to the next grade after discussions with teachers about their progress. It was something Belvedere Elementary Parent Lisa Christie worried about. “It was very concerning to me as a mom of a third grader that struggles in reading, whether she was going to be automatically, you know, sent to fourth grade where they’re going to be measures in place to make sure she was truly ready. She did address a lot of those things,” Christie added.

We’ve learned the last two weeks of the school year will give students the opportunity to close out the year — including picking up and dropping off materials and parent-teacher meetings and other assessments. A task force is expected to be recreated to figure out how schools can reopen in August.

McMaster and Spearman also encouraged school districts and parents to find innovative ways to hold graduation ceremonies despite the closure. “Seniors, I’ve heard from you, I’ve gotten some very articulate heart-wrenching letters saying let us have a graduation ceremony. Your district leaders have sent us some very creative ideas of how they’re planning on handling graduation and we want those to go out,” Spearman shared.

Online instruction will continue until the regular end of the school year, which is late May for some, but early June for most.

The Aiken County School District issued the following statement after the announcement.

“As you may have heard, today in a press conference at 11:00 a.m. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced the decision that state-wide school closures would extend through the end of this school year.

While we certainly respect the Governor and State Superintendent’s difficult decision, we join many of you in disappointment for what will be missed as a result of this pandemic. Nothing is paramount to the health and safety of our students, staff members and families and we will recover and make up what is possible when we do return. We have surveyed the students and families of graduating seniors and look forward to reviewing your feedback and sharing plans to celebrate the Class of 2020 in an alternative way to our traditional graduation ceremonies based on your ideas and input with that survey.

We would encourage students to continue working on their Distance Learning Packets and to engage in regular communication with their teachers. The second phase of Distance Learning Packets will be due Friday, May 1. At that time phase three will be available for pickup or download from our website.

We thank you for your continued partnership in the education of your children and assure you that we will continue to do our very best to support you and your child or children throughout these challenging times.”

Edgefield County issued the following statement:

“Governor Henry McMaster announced on April 22, 2020, all South Carolina Schools will be closed for the remainder of the ‘19-’20 academic year. “While this is sad news, we understand his decision. This is a public health issue and safety remains the top priority for our students, staff members, and their families,” noted Dr. Kevin O’Gorman, ECSD Superintendent.

ECSD’s response to schools closing has steadily transformed to address the changing conditions and circumstances created by COVID-19 over the past six weeks. “We intend to use Instructional Choice Boards with modifications until the end of the year. Teams of principals, instructional coaches, and grade-level teachers across the district will continue to develop new versions that are grade-level specific and appropriately challenging for students. Additionally, we value feedback and we will continue to seek input as we move forward,” explained Josh Black, ECSD Director of Instruction.

The Instructional Choice Boards method of instructional delivery was designed to provide students with flexibility, support, and opportunities for feedback through a distance learning experience. While creating these assignments ECSD also considered that some students have limited internet access, each student has specific needs, and that there are essential skills that every student must master to be ready for the next grade level.

To assist with remote teaching and learning, the district is in the process of providing internet access points in a variety of locations for students who may not have the ability to connect to the internet at home. “Connectivity for our students and staff members has been one of the greatest obstacles we have faced in terms of providing distance learning. We want to provide as many connection points as possible in various locations throughout the county so parents and students can upload and download assignments and communicate with their teachers,” stated O’Gorman. In addition to providing distance learning opportunities, the district will also continue to provide meals for students for the remainder of the school year.

STHS was developing a backup plan for graduation in case school closed for the remainder of the year. “We are moving ahead with our scheduled June 5th graduation,” said Bob Grimm, Principal of STHS. The ceremonies will be held on the football field and will be divided into three smaller events in order to avoid large crowds and accommodate social distancing. Students and parents will be notified in advance of their scheduled ceremony time and all three events will be streamed live. “While this is an unfortunate outcome, the STHS Rebels class of 2020 will be graduating June 5th!” continued Grimm.

Barnwell School District 45 issued two statements:

“Governor McMaster has announced that South Carolina public schools will remain closed the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. We know this brings challenges to our families; however, we also know this announcement is made with our children’s best interest at heart. For our students and families, please continue working on your distance learning as you have been doing. We are so proud of the commitment of students, families, and staff during this time. As we plan for the closure of this school year, we will share specific details with you in the coming weeks.”

Williston School District 29 issued this statement:

“Governor McMaster has announced that S.C. Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the year. WE will announce graduation plans and plans for the end of the year in the near future.”

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