Orangeburg Co. joins wave of school districts expanding number of face-to-face instruction days

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (WOLO) — Several school districts across the Midlands are giving students the chance to go into school more days a week.

Orangeburg County is among the most recent in allowing students to come back to the classroom two days a week. This new plan started on Monday, and splits students up based on their name in the alphabet. Under the plan, students would stay in the same classroom all day, and students and staff will be required to wear masks. 

Like some Midlands districts, Orangeburg County had all of their students learning virtually to start the school year, but after getting the classrooms ready for students and monitoring numbers, the district felt the time was right to start transitioning back to in-person instruction.

“We felt comfortable that we had everything in place in regards to the proper PPE,” said Dr. Shawn Foster, the Superintendent of the Orangeburg County School District. “The plexiglass coming in was a game-changer for us, and that allowed us to have a precaution on top of the additional precautions that we have.”

Orangeburg County joins a growing list of districts that are expanding the number of days students are coming into the classroom.

  • Lexington-Richland School District Five and Lexington School District One have started offering four days of in-person instruction for certain students. 
  • Lexington School District Two is pivoting towards a four day-a-week in-person model starting November 12. A spokesperson for the district said if Lexington County’s disease activity is still listed as “high” by South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on when the school board meets October 27 or in DHEC’s report in early November, then the current model would continue.
  • Richland School District Two plans on starting Phase Two of their reopening plan on November 4, pushing it back from October 26. Phase Two would incorporate a hybrid model, where students would come in two days a week.
  • Richland School District One started allowing students in pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade, back into their classrooms Monday for one day of face-to-face instruction. They also gave the green light for students with special needs to come back into the classroom.

Phyllis Griggs, a kindergarten teacher at River Springs Elementary School in Irmo, said the safety precautions taken by her district, Lexington-Richland 5, have made it feel safe in the classroom.

“I haven’t really had any days where I feel like I was not in a safe environment, so I just think we’re making everything very safe and friendly so we are at ease,” Griggs said.

Back in Orangeburg, Dr. Foster says half of his district’s parents are keeping their students learning from home, and that a majority of his teachers told his team they feel comfortable coming back to the classroom and stepping up for their students.

“That can’t be said loud enough for their bravery and their courage, and for their commitment to their children. They love children, and they understand that,” said Dr. Foster.

For more information on Orangeburg County’s reopening plan, click here.

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