Greenville County Schools announced today that they are bringing back high school students come mid-January from 40 percent attendance up to 75 percent attendance. Plexiglass dividers will be used in high schools were six feet of distance is not possible.
Dr. Royster, GCS Superintendent, said that bringing back high school students has been a big challenge due to class sizes and space available, in addition to the fact that high schoolers tend to have higher number of COVID cases.
“We’ve known from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that high schools pose the biggest challenge when it comes to returning students to the classroom. This plan allows us to nearly double the amount of in-person instruction at high schools and return most Career Center students to fulltime in-person instruction allowing them to work toward their industry certification,” said Dr. Royster.
GCS announced last month they are bringing back middle school students to full-time in-person attendance.
How it Works
The new schedule for high schoolers will start on January 19, 2021.
Each color group (blue, red, green, purple) will have three in-person attendance days that never change:
- Blue—Monday, Wednesday, Thursday
- Red—Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
- Green—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
- Purple—Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
On Friday, students will attend in-person classes three out of four Fridays each month based on their color group:
- Blue, Red, Green—January 22, February 19, March 26, April 30, May 28 (Purple = eLearning)
- Blue, Red, Purple—January 29, February 26, April 2, May 7, June 4 (Green = eLearning)
- Blue, Green, Purple—February 5, March 5, April 16, May 14 (Red = eLearning)
- Red, Green, Purple—February 12, March 12, April 23, May 21 (Blue = eLearning)
Students will engage in eLearning on days they are not physically in class. On eLearning days, teachers will offer streamed and/or recorded instruction.
Current Obstacles: Substitute Teachers
In an email to media last month, the district pointed out that DHEC statistics point to the fact that contracting COVID-19 at school is about half the rate of the community.
Even so, with the number of teachers in quarantine for possible exposure to COVID-19 and being sick with the virus or with another ailment, the district cannot fill classrooms with the adults needed to hold in-person class.
“With a significant number of substitutes who have refused all offered assignments this year, it is becoming increasingly difficult to fill in for absent teachers. Media specialists, school counselors, instructional coaches, and administrators are all being called on to help supervise classes, but at the expense of their usual duties and responsibilities,” the district said in an email.
Dr. Royster said today that these current plans could certainly be derailed if cases continue to climb and they cannot staff schools.
If the COVID-19 Surge Continues…
As COVID-19 cases in South Carolina, in particular in our area in the Upstate, continue to increase, Dr. Royster said schools may need to close. He indicated that if school was supposed to be in session next week, at the rate cases have been increasing, many schools would likely have closed.
As indicated above, the school doesn’t have enough teachers to cover classes due to quarantining requirements for exposure.
The 2021-22 School Year
GCS released the calendar for the 2021-22 school year, which contains no inclement weather days. If there is bad weather, students will still attend class through eLearning.
The Virtual Program will also be available next year and the district said they will release more information soon about signing up.