Elementary Students Going Back to School In-Person in Greenville

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Greenville County Schools announced that all elementary students, K4-5th grade, can go back to school in-person through a phased in program starting October 12th. There are going to be changes inside classrooms, including the use of plexiglass dividers and masks that have been approved by DHEC.

“That gives us a solution to safely return all of our elementary students and staff enrolled in brick and mortar schools, ” said Dr. Royster.

This does not affect students enrolled in the Virtual Program.

Because middle and high school students have more than 25 students per classroom (the cap allowed with the use of plexiglass dividers), these students cannot go back full-time in person.


First graders have already been moving to five day in-person instruction and will continue to do so and start their first full week the week of October 12th.

The schedule below is from GCS:

4K & 5K

  • Week of October 12 
    • Students will attend Monday or Tuesday, based on color group
  • Students will attend Wednesday & Thursday, October 14 & 15
  • Week of October 19 is the first full week of attendance (4 Days because October 23 is a professional development day) 
  • Week of October 26 will be first full 5-day week

1st Grade – already underway

  • Week of September 30
  • Students attended Monday or Tuesday, based on color group
  • Students attended Wednesday & Thursday, September 30 & October 1 
  • Week of October 12 will be first full 5-day week

2nd Grade

  • Week of October 19 
    • Students will attend Monday or Tuesday, based on color group
  • Students will attend Wednesday & Thursday, October 21 & 22
  • Week of October 26 will be first full 5-day week

3rd Grade

  • Week of October 26 
    • Students will attend Monday or Tuesday, based on color group

Students will attend Wednesday & Thursday, October 28 & 29
Week of November 2 will be first full week (4 days because Election Day is the Nov. 3) 

4th Grade & 5th Grade

  • Week of November 2 
    • Students in Blue and Green color groups will attend Monday
    • Tuesday is a school holiday due to Election Day – no students attend
  • Students will attend Wednesday and Thursday, November 4 & 5
  • Week of November 9 is first full 5-day week

What Classrooms Will Look Like

The use of plexiglass dividers and masks will be used in grades 2-5 classrooms where six feet of distance is not possible.

Up to four students wearing masks will sit in clusters with three feet of distance between them plus a plexiglass barrier. Each cluster will be separated by six feet.

If a student in a cluster tests positive for COVID, the other three students will not need to quarantine as long as all safety protocols were followed.

The only time students will be able to remove their mask is during lunch and possibly other instances where social distancing at six feet can be observed.

Kindergarten and first grade students will be socially distanced within classrooms and masks are not mandated unless they are transitioning classrooms or other instances where six feet of distance is not possible.

Students who wish to switch to in-person from the Virtual Program can apply but they would be put on a waitlist. All of the considerations GCS took in order to return to school is based on the current number of students enrolled in brick-and-mortar school.

Transportation Issues

“We know, based on the analysis of our current riders, we will be able to bring all of the elementary students to school on time,” said Dr. Royster.

“We will have a number of middle and high school students that will now be late because of elementary students, which will vary but could be up to 30 minutes late. We are looking at what we can offset what they would miss.”

GCS said they are in desperate need of bus drivers. Apply here.

Kids will not be socially distanced on the bus and are still required to wear masks. We reached out to GCS to clarify this and received this answer:

” Because of this change, there will be two elementary students per seat which does not allow for 6-feet of social distancing. (Normally, there are three elementary students per seat.)  Kids will be required to wear masks for the entire bus ride, to and from school. The state Department of Education says buses should filled to 67 percent capacity, which is essentially two students per seat.”

What Are Teachers Thinking?

GCS surveyed their teachers and staff last week about the plexiglass plan.

Among the 3,800 teachers who responded to the survey:

  • 83.5% reported protocols such as mask wearing and social distancing have been followed with little to no resistance,
  • 12.7% reported employees have done well, but students have been less compliant,
  • 82.1% of teachers indicated that have felt very safe (42%) or somewhat safe (40.1%) from COVID while at work this fall. 

GCS teachers are divided over returning to full-time in-person instruction:

  • 51% of all teachers reported feeling comfortable with the idea of moving to five-days-a-week face-to-face instruction when in accord with DHEC regulations,
  • 60% of elementary teachers indicating they were comfortable.

As the case has been over the summer and fall, GCS will be daily monitoring compliance with these protocols and the number of COVID cases among students and staff.

“A significant change in either could result in a return to a hybrid schedule or 100% eLearning,” said GCS in an email to media.

Have students learning at home? Here are some virtual and local learning opportunities for students learning at home, plus our huge list of educational day trips and travel from Greenville.

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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