Midlands teachers look to utilize caution, creativity when school starts back up
Several teachers will be back in the classroom teaching amid the pandemic
WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —With the start of the school year just around the corner, several teachers are preparing to educate their students in several different ways.
Even with some students sitting in their desks or some tuning in on their computer on the first day of school, Fulmer Middle School teacher Adam Godfrey says he and his colleagues will work to provide a positive yet safe educational experience.
“The goal is to try and make things feel as normal as possible, so we’re trying not to focus on the negatives, but trying to stay positive and trying to be a positive in all of this,” Godfrey said.
On Thursday, Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman approved 25 new reopening plans, including one for Lexington School District Two.
Lexington Two will have a hybrid model with two days of classroom instruction, as well as a fully virtual model for students who want to learn from home.
Most of the approved models have the option to return to the classroom, something Governor Henry McMaster has been pushing for over the last few weeks.
“I believe that our first preference should be face-to-face teaching in these classrooms. There’s no substitute for a live, trained, skilled teacher, and we have an abundance of them,” Gov. McMaster told reporters Wednesday.
Even with some of their students not physically in the classroom, some teachers say the key to a successful year is safety, but also creativity.
Rachel Haltiwanger is preparing for her first year at the East Point Academy charter school in West Columbia. She says she’s excited to start teaching, but says she’s been working on ways to collaborate with other teachers and make sure all the students gain the in-person experience right at their fingertips.
“Taking these effective teaching strategies that we already know and using them in a way that will also help our virtual learners is something we really have to, as teachers, tap into our creative brains and figure out those effective teaching strategies,” said Haltiwanger.
Godfrey said he is cautiously optimistic to return to the classroom, saying he’s excited to see his students again even with the lingering threat of COVID-19. After teaching virtually upon the statewide closure of schools last year, he says he and his fellow teachers at Fulmer are prepared to tackle any situation.
“We’re on our toes, we’re ready to go. If things change, things change, and we do our best to adapt,” Godfrey said.
According to the S.C. Department of Education, the following school districts are giving parents the option to send their students into school five days a week:
- Abbeville County School District
- Anderson School District Five
- Beaufort County School District (their plan was approved contingent upon the district offering a face-to-face option no later than Sept. 14)
- Berkeley County School District
- Darlington County School District
- Greenwood School District 50
- Kershaw County School District
- Laurens County School District 56
- Lexington School District Three (only K5 students in the “PRIDE” option)
- School District of Oconee County
- School District of Pickens County
- Spartanburg County School District Two (only elementary students after August 31)
- Williamsburg County School District
- Clover School District-York Two (only elementary students after September 14 under the “Family” model)
- Fort Mill School District-York Four (only elementary students after September 28 under the “Family” model)
Several school districts across the state, including Lexington School District Four, are set to start August 17. Lexington School Districts One, Two, and Three are set to start August 31, while Lexington-Richland School District Five is set to start September 8.