Greenville County School’s Return to School: Here’s Their Post Holiday Plan

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Wondering what school will look like in Greenville County Schools when they return on January 4th? Greenville County School leaders met and here’s what they had to say about their post-holiday plans for in-person, face-to-face, and virtual instruction in elementary, middle, and high schools.

Greenville County Schools, in response to questions asked by the community, and a petition calling for greater transparency released this statement on January 4th, 2021:

“Throughout this Pandemic and especially once planning began for a return to in-person learning, Greenville County Schools has been in regular contact with medical representatives from DHEC, Prisma Health, and Bon Secours, seeking guidance and expertise regarding the protocols we have adopted to ensure the health and safety of students and staff and our plans to increase in-person attendance.  Though only DHEC has the statutory authority to close schools, we have continued to seek input from experts who live and work in our community each time we have made a decision about revising or increasing in-person instruction, including last Thursday, December 31, when we affirmed our plans to return to school on January 4. 
Based on the many protocols GCS has in place to help mitigate the spread of COVID, none of these entities have at this time, or any time, recommended that we step back from our current or proposed operating mode.

Dr. Brannon Traxler, Interim Director of Public Health is our primary contact at SC DHEC. Because the local health systems have served only as consultants without any authority to open or close schools, and since our contacts at Bon Secours and Prisma Health have made it clear to us they are representing the expertise of their respective systems and not just individual opinions, we will refer back to those systems any requests for individual names.”

Greenville County Schools released the following statement announcing their plan for a return after the holidays, on December 31st, 2020:

“Today, GCS leaders met to discuss the recent spike in COVID cases and the district’s path forward.  As preparation for this meeting, specific guidance from medical officials at Bon Secours, Prisma, and DHEC was sought and discussed. 

In short, students and teachers in our traditional program will return to school as planned on Monday, with elementary and middle school back for five days of face-to-face instruction and high schools on Attendance Plan 2.  This does not impact students in the virtual program who will continue with 100% virtual instruction.

Currently, the number of school staff who will be out next week due to COVID-related quarantines or isolations is about one-third the number from December 18. However, we will continue to monitor that metric and will put individual schools on 100-percent eLearning if they are unable to adequately and safely staff the building. As Dr. Royster has stated before, the evidence is strong that our existing safety protocols are preventing the spread of COVID in our schools.

In fact, public health officials believe a failure to return to school will make the situation worse because it is clear people have not been following pandemic guidance over the last 10 days. 

When students and employees are in school for 7-1/2 hours each day where protocols are implemented and monitored those actions help to mitigate the spread of COVID in our community, as compared to when individuals are free to gather with little to no monitoring.  Upon return, students and teachers are asked to be vigilant about mask-wearing, social distancing, hand washing, and monitoring for symptoms.   

Families are asked to please promptly report to their child’s school anyone living in their residence with a positive COVID test, COVID exposure, or COVID symptoms.”

To pre-register to receive a COVID test in the Upstate, visit the DHEC website. These tests are free, and results are returned in a few days.

For past coverage of the Greenville County School district’s plan for returning kids to school:
Elementary Kids Returning To School In-Person In Greenville (10/7/20)
High School Kids getting More In-Person Time in Greenville (12/17/20)

About the Author
Melanie is a native New Yorker, who landed in the Upstate by way of Florida. She is the mom of two awesome kids, and the three of them love going on adventures!

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