BACK TO SCHOOL: Midlands superintendents talk about early start to semester

WINNSBORO, SC (WOLO) — While Richland school districts have yet to return to class, a few across the Midlands have gone back to school.

“We’ve hit the normal things that you hit at the beginning of the year like long car rider lines and bus routes that take a little while to sort out. However, there’s nothing that is abnormal,” said Dr. Harrison Goodwin, Kershaw County School District superintendent.

A teacher shortage is something that is not abnormal in districts across the state, including Kershaw County schools.

“We definitely are facing a shortage of bus drivers and teachers,” Goodwin said. “We started the year about 23 bus drivers down out of 100. That’s a pretty good chunk.”

Over in Fairfield County, the district is not facing a bus driver shortage but is looking for more teachers.

“I think at our last count, we are about seven or eight teachers short,” said Dr. J.R. Green, Fairfield County School District superintendent.

This is also the first school year that Fairfield County schools have gone back at the beginning of August. The shorter summer means additional time off during October and February.

“My theory is that they’re going to really enjoy it, particularly the additional breaks during the year,” Green said.

A lot of new things are happening in both districts as well, including renovations to some Kershaw County school buildings.

“We’re in the process of rebuilding North Central after the tornado. We’re starting to close in on completion of that,” Goodwin said. “Hopefully, it’ll be done by the end of first semester. A lot of big things are happening at one time, but they seem to be going along smoothly.”

“One of the biggest changes for our secondary students is that we’re adding these open-gate metal detector systems,” Green said. “It’s in an effort to shore up security.”

Just like other districts in the state, both Fairfield and Kershaw County schools are playing catch up after COVID caused some learning loss among students.

“There were some academic struggles that we had to address. That’s something that is ongoing,” Green said.

“It was our math scores that have really taken a hit,” Goodwin said. “I guess it’s because kids will read when they’re not in school, but they won’t work on math problems when they’re not in school.”

To make sure students do not miss any more school this year, Superintendent Goodwin advises parents to think about getting their kids vaccinated.

“Certainly parents should consider it. Kids have probably not been in close contact with a lot of people recently,” the Kershaw County superintendent said. “Our COVID numbers statewide are up some. It’s certainly not a bad idea for parents to consider.”

Richland County students go back to school on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.


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