Greenville County Schools Announces New Details About the Return to School

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Greenville County School announcements and like all parents, we have been waiting for clarifying information on what school will look like in the fall. We’ve already read the 200+ page report from AccelerateED and put together a summary, written on the Virtual Program offered by GCS, and now we have put together a summary of the newest details GCS has released with links to relevant information in efforts to help our readers sort through everything and make informed decisions for their families.

We also have scheduled an interview for Tuesday, July 14th at 8 pm on Facebook with GCS Board Member, Derek Lewis. Derek is also the Executive Director of Greenville First Steps, a non profit that funds programs to help parents and caregivers prepare children for Kindergarten. His wife is a teacher and he has two kids in Greenville County Schools, so he gets it. If you have questions right now (don’t we all?), send an email to us at [email protected], and we will try to get an answer.

GCS Fall 2020/21 Details

What was announced for Greenville County Schools recently?

GCS also answered questions via a Facebook Live interview on July 9th and announced that they plan on scheduling more videos in the future.

So, here’s our takeaways from these releases. We will do our best to represent GCS accurately using the above sources. Information is still being released and some questions do not have answers yet.

New Information from GCS Special Called Meeting, 7/14/2020, 9 AM

GCS Health and Hygiene Protocols:

Masks: Plans 1 and 2: Required for all staff and all students (except preK-Grade 1 and those with medical/developmental justifications) anytime they are in transition or not able to maintain a 6-foot distance from other people.

Recess: Will take place but without play equipment. Maintain 6-foot distance unless masked.

Bus Transportation: 50% capacity, load back to front, unload front to back, share seat only with household members, mask requirements to be determined.

Meals: Plan 1 will likely happen in cafeteria but in plans 2 and 5 will be likely served in classrooms.

A one week delay is being considered to change the first day of school to August 24th and August 17th. These extra days could be made up by eLearning on snow days and removing a couple holidays. The LEAP program, if further delayed, would be offered the week of August 17th.

A public announcement regarding the announcement regarding schedule for start of school in late July/early August will be made. Timeline for GCS Re-Opening Plan was discussed. July 21st is when the final document of the GCS Re-Opening plan will be released to the public.

Challenges discussed include sub shortages, bus capacity, health risks and more.

Virtual Program teachers will be able to teach from home.

There is a possible non-profit that might provide childcare options for teachers.

If school were to start tomorrow with our current disease spread and local statistics, it would be 100% eLearning.

Greenville County School’s Virtual Program

First, it’s important to clarify that parents in Greenville County have two choices this year. They can either choose virtual school or in-person school, which is dependent on the spread of COVID-19 in Greenville. If a parent chooses virtual school through GCS, their child will have virtual classes each day for the entirety of the school year. Their child will have this instruction regardless of whether the spread of COVID-19 is low, medium or high in the region.

Some important details about the virtual program:

  • Virtual school options include grades 5K-12.
  • If you choose virtual school via GCS, you are choosing virtual school for the entire year. GCS does not ensure that your child can switch to in-person school later in the year and has stated that space may not allow switching.
  • Virtual students are still members of their school district and local school. They can still participate in extracurriculars, events, and programs through their home school.
  • Virtual students will have a set schedule very similar to traditional school. They will have classes taught by live teachers. GCS has indicated that many of these classes will also be recorded which may indicate that there may be some flexibility for kids to complete their work outside of the set schedule.
  • Virtual students will be graded and expected to progress by normal school year standards.
  • While GCS will take into consideration the student needs of those that apply for virtual school, it’s possible that some niche high school classes will not be offered via virtual school. Those students will need to either take other classes or return to school via the in-person option.
  • Students with IEPs will be accommodated via the virtual school option and will be taught by Special Education teachers.
  • If your child is in a magnet or choice school, they will not lose their spot if they choose virtual school this year. The only exception is immersion schools where they may be assessed upon return to ensure that they can still understand the language well enough to merge back in.
  • GCS is still waiting on information on whether they will be able to provide free lunches for children in the virtual program.

Greenville County School released this video explaining the virtual school option:

Greenville County School’s In-Person School Option

GCS’s in-person school option is a bit confusing and many details are still yet to be released. This is what we know so far:

  • The schedule for in-person school will fluctuate based on the COVID-19 spread in Greenville County and the current DHEC recommendations. (For a definition of what is “high, medium, or low spread” see this DHEC document.)
  • Each family will be assigned a color code based on the first letter of their last name. There will be four groups of children.
  • If COVID-19 spread is low, then all children will attend school 5 days a week.
  • If COVID-19 spread is high, your child may attend 0 days or 1 day a week. The other days, your child will engage in e-learning.
  • If COVID-19 spread is medium, your child may attend 1 or 2 days a week. The other days your child will engage in e-learning. On this schedule, the teacher is teaching the other groups of students on the alternate days other than Friday, so the e-learning will be independent with minimal teacher assistance.
  • The schedule will be determined on a week by week basis.
  • If a family has children with different last names, the school will work with them to ensure the kids are in the same color group.
  • In-person students will follow normal pacing and curriculum.
  • Children will have outdoor recess, but GCS is not sure whether protocols will allow for use of playground equipment.

This video was released to help explain how the schedule works.

What else do we know right now?

All children will be provided with Chromebooks this year. GCS is working on internet solutions such as deploying hotspots to homes without internet access.

The school district will release a decision as far as what the first week of school will look like as soon as possible. They are not able to publish a decision yet as it is still uncertain what the disease spread will be like in August, and many of the protocols are still being developed.

Greenville County Schools has not made a decision on whether the start day of school will be delayed or not this year.

The Facebook Q&A indicated that all fine arts such as orchestra except those with certifications will be offered virtually. We plan to clarify this on Tuesday during our interview.

Honors and AP classes will still be offered.

Most cleaning and safety protocols are still being developed. Some protocols such as whether or not kids eat in the cafeteria may depend on the number of students.

A decision on masks has not been made and will be released with the protocols. GCS has not decided whether they will require masks all day or when distancing is not possible.

GCS has not made a decision on fall sports.

GCS has said that they will provide all necessary cleaning supplies for classrooms.

GCS has stated that their goal is to get back to 5-day school as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Much of this information was pulled from the QA on Facebook. You can listen to it here.

Do you have more questions? Join us Tuesday, at 8 pm for our Facebook Live with Derek Lewis and send your questions now to [email protected] See you then!

About the Author
Bethany Winston is the owner and editor-in-chief of Kidding Around Greenville & Kidding Around Spartanburg. She enjoys exploring parks, discovering local events, and meeting the people who make Greenville an amazing place to live. You can contact her directly at [email protected]

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