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Posts Tagged ‘Greenville County Schools’

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.

DHEC Approves GCS to Use Plexiglass in Place of 6-feet Distance

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Update 10/7/20: Greenville County Schools announces timetable to return all elementary students to 5-day instruction.

Greenville County Schools announced today that they are testing the viability of plexiglass dividers in classrooms to get kids back to in-person school.

“The dividers would allow up to four students wearing masks to sit at one table with only three-feet of social distance between them. Each cluster of students would be separated by six feet.”

DHEC has given initial approval of this solution and the school district is working with principals and facilities personnel to see if this is a solution for students getting back in the classroom.

Six Feet Barrier

Dr. Royster, the Superintendent of Greenville County Schools, said in a press conference last week that the possibility of students past second grade getting back into the classrooms is near impossible because of the six-feet of distance rule and smaller spaces.

“It would be nearly impossible to get students past second grade back to classes right now in the classroom space we have,” said Dr. Royster on September 23rd. “When we get up into the high schools and middle schools, getting any number larger than 17 into a regular class keeping six feet of space is nearly impossible.”

Photo Credit: GCS
Photo of plexiglass dividers being considered by GCS, photo credit: GCS

COVID+ Test?

What about the possibility of quarantine if one of the students in those smaller groups tests positive for COVID-19?

GCS states that “because of how these dividers are designed, if one child were to test positive for COVID-19, the other three who shared their table would not have to be quarantined so long as safety protocols were followed.

Next Steps

GCS is currently testing these dividers and is planning to make an announcement on their implementation by next Tuesday. They have also sent a survey to teachers to get their input on the idea.

We’ll update this story when we know more.

Greenville County Schools: Some Students to Return to In-Person School

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Greenville County Schools has always wanted to get all students back to class in-person, based on their road map and extensive plans. They announced today that all students in first grade, as well as self-contained special ed students at all grades and Level 2 classes at Career Centers will begin transitioning to in-person instruction beginning next week.

This has no bearing on students in the Virtual Program, who are always doing 100% virtual. For students who chose in-person learning, read on.

First Grade & Preschool/Elementary Special-Ed Self-Contained Students

First Grade Students and Preschool/Elementary Special Education SELF-CONTAINED Students will begin phasing in five-day a week in-person instruction over next three weeks. The schedule is below:

Week of September 28

Students will attend Monday or Tuesday based on color group.  Beginning Wednesday all first graders and preschool/elementary special education self-contained students will also attend Wednesday and Thursday.  The net result is that all students in these categories will attend in-person school three days next week (Monday or Tuesday PLUS Wednesday and Thursday)

Week of October 5

All students in these categories will attend four days of school – Monday through Thursday

Week of October 12

All students in these categories will return to five day a week, in-person instruction until further notice.

Middle School and High School Special Ed Self-Contained Students

MS and HS Special Education self-contained students and Career Center Level II Students will start phasing in four-day a week in-person instruction over next two weeks.

Week of September 28

Students attend all classes Monday or Tuesday based on color group.  Beginning Wednesday attend all self-contained classes and Career Center Level II courses on both Wednesday and Thursday.  The net result is that all students in these categories will attend school/career center classes in-person three days next week (Monday or Tuesday PLUS Wednesday and Thursday). Please note, career center students will follow the district-wide attendance plan (currently Plan 2) for their regular education classes – this change only impacts attendance at their career center classes. 

Week of October 5 and on

All students in these categories will attend self-contained classes and career center courses four days – Monday through Thursday. Please note, career center students will remain on Plan 2 for their regular education classes – this change only impacts attendance at their career center classes.

Spread of COVID-19 at GCS

The number of COVID-19 are low at GCS schools and Dr. Royster noted that very few of them contracted COVID-19 at schools. They do contact tracing for every case. The number of cases and where they are located is updated at this link.

Masks are still required at school. GCS will continue the sanitation measures that have been in place since the beginning of the school year.

This is what they stated on their site: ” All students, including 1st graders and special ed students, will be required to wear masks when transitioning (hallways, entering school). Classes at the Fine Arts Center are not included because student numbers do not allows for social distancing in all programs.”

Why just these grades are going back?

Dr. Royster said that these grades and classes have a smaller number of students in the class that allow for social distancing. For K5 for instance, they will likely split up the classes into groups so they can adhere to social distancing. They are working on those plans.

“This plan allows us to keep in place the safety and health parameters that we believe have contributed to the success we’ve had in safely reentering schools,” said Dr. Royster.

“These students require greater interaction and more face-to-face interaction,” he continued.

What about other grades?

GCS has indicated they want to bring back other grades soon: “Greenville County Schools is currently exploring options to return K4 and K5 students to full-time, in-person instruction in a manner that allows classrooms to be set up for social distancing.”

Dr. Royster also indicated that an announcement will be forthcoming about getting K4 and K5 students back in class four or five days a week.

The biggest obstacle to getting students back to in-person classes is the six feet of distance requirements.

“It would be nearly impossible to get students past second grade back to classes right now in the classroom space we have,” said Dr. Royster. “When we get up into the high schools and middle schools, getting any number larger than 17 into a regular class keeping six feet of space is nearly impossible.”

Pre-k and Kindergarten classrooms are bigger. Dr. Royster noted that for students to get back into these classrooms, DHEC would need to recommend a distance of less than six feet.

If you want to sign your child up for the Virtual Program, please contact the school district to be added to the waiting list.

We will update as more information is announced.

Is your child still learning from home? Here’s a list of virtual educational fun things to do to add some variety to the day.

Or, check out our list of educational things to do in Greenville. Get out and enjoy this beautiful fall weather!

Questions and Answers about Greenville County Schools Opening this Fall

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We have had a number of questions come in from readers about Greenville County School this fall. In this article, we are compiling these questions with the answers that we have received. Please understand that due to the large amount of information and changing nature of information, it’s best to double check with your school for any questions that greatly affect your family.

This information is taken from the Return to School page on the GCS website, GCS Final Plan, our two Facebook Lives with Derek Lewis (GCS School Board Member), our Facebook Live with GCS’ Jeff McCoy, and Facebook Lives on the GCS Facebook page. Derek Lewis has also sent us some answers that came from questions during our live which are marked with his name.

Besides the answers stated here, this story on a summary of the August 4, 2020 GCS School Board meeting has other details on current trends, sports, masks, and possible school closures.

Stock photo of school children with text "your questions about school answered"

About Public School Schedules

Governor McMaster called on public schools to open 5-days a week with a 100% virtual option for those concerned with safety, why are some school districts still not opening 5-days?

While McMaster’s statement was worded strongly it was not a mandate. The SC Department of Education approves school plans and while they have stated that they will only approve plans with an in-person option for families, they are approving plans that include a combination of eLearning, hybrid, and traditional school based on COVID spread. These types of school plans are based on the SC AccelerateED Task Force Recommendations which were created based on local feedback from parents and teachers and consultation with educational and health experts. McMaster has since on several occasions voiced support for the Department of Education and State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman.

What is GCS’s position on 5-day school?

Greenville County Schools has maintained a position that advocates for returning to 5-day school as soon as it’s safe to do so but not in a way that compromises the safety of students and staff. Greenville County Schools also released a statement in response to the Governor expressing concern about his position.

Can I make a change in school plan for public school after the school year begins?

GCS has stated that your family’s choice for virtual or in-person school is for the entire school year. They have also clarified that this policy does not mean that switches will not be considered if there is space in the other program or for special circumstances.

Families should be aware that GCS is allocating teachers and resources based on current enrollment. Decisions such as enrolling your child after the start of school, removing your child from school, and changing programs can affect funding and resources on the school level.

Will there be any scenarios where schools will be on a different schedule (for instance can a school choose to open based on their local COVID spread if other schools are closed)?

GCS will decide for the entire district what schedule will be implemented. The only situation outside of the GCS decision would be if a COVID outbreak inside a particular school mandated a temporary closure. These types of closures happen for other diseases as well.

If my child is on the one day a week schedule, and assigned to Monday- and Monday is a school holiday, will I make that day up, or is it just bad luck for me?

Derek Lewis (GCS School Board Member): Yes, you will miss that week. We considered changing our days of attendance to Tuesday-Friday because of holidays, but most companies in our area with shift work are based on four 10-hour days work Mon-Thurs, so it was better for working parents.  When we changed the calendar, we moved one teacher workday from a Monday to a Friday to better balance this issue.

Will there be orientation for K5, 6th, or 9th graders this year?

GCS has stated that there will be virtual orientations for these grades. Also, K5 and 6th graders have an option for an in-person L.E.A.P. day whether they are in in-person or virtual school.

About In-Person School

For the foreseeable future, will playground equipment be closed?

Derek Lewis: I believe they were closed by DHEC and not by the schools.
Playground equipment will not be used at this time due to the inability to clean it between use by different children.

How will students be at individual desks when many classes had tables?

GCS has a large warehouse with equipment such as desks that is available for use. Desk room furniture is not an issue.

For more information on what school classrooms will look like see our article with photos.

Will children and teachers be wearing masks all day?

No, masks will only be required when social distancing (6 feet) is not possible such as on the bus, during transitions, and in the bathrooms. Masks may be required at recess if social distancing isn’t possible.

Will GCS provide cleaning supplies or will parents be asked to donate?

Yes, GCS will provide all cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and necessary PPE. This includes masks for children that forget their masks or do not have masks. Parents are asked to provide masks for their children if they can do so.

How much notice will GCS give if the schedules change?

At least five days’ notice. GCS will communicate in the ways they have before – text, phone, email, and social media.

What will e-learning look like and will it be different from the spring?

Jeff McCoy, GCS: We are a lot more prepared right now than we were in the spring. If we’re at 100% e-learning, it will look a lot like the virtual program and teachers can do live or recorded lessons online. If we are attending one or two days in-person a week, classes will be smaller and teachers will be able to personalize a lot of that instruction and be prepared to send home work with them. GCS has worked all summer to build instructional videos and activities so teachers can post those throughout the week and check in with students during the planning period.

How many students will be at in-person classes?

Jeff McCoy: On the one day a week attendance, it’s only 5 to 6 six students. For twice a week in-person, around 15 kids will likely attend.

Will there be field trips – virtual or otherwise?

Jeff McCoy: There will be virtual field trips. Hopefully schedules will be ready to go by August 7. No in-person field trips are planned.

Will students be able to get 1-on-1 help?

Jeff McCoy: There will be 30-minute blocks where students can get help from their teachers.


What cleaning products will be used to sanitize schools?

Superintendent Burke Royster: We use Biotab 7 in accord with safety guidelines. We use it after hours and any used, whether after hours or during the day, that we would spray on, student contact is not allowed until it’s dry. We consistently look for better chemicals and cleaning products that have few or any adverse affects. But to do the job we need it to do, we have to use something stronger. The primary concern of any decisions we make is for the health and safety of our students and staff.

How does GCS expect teachers to clean their classrooms every time students use something?

Superintendent Burke Royster: We are just asking teachers to spray everything down. It takes a few seconds and there won’t be as many kids as usual in classrooms. This is what GCS did at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena during graduation.

Masks in GCS Schools

What is considered a mask?

GCS states, “masks must be cloth or disposable and cover the mouth and nose securely.” Later communication has clarified that this would exclude bandannas as they do not cover the mouth securely but that buffs will be allowed.

Are there are exceptions for masks?

Yes, students in preK-1st will not be required to wear a mask as well as some special needs students. Students with official medical documentation stating that they have a medical condition that does not allow the wearing of a mask will also be excused from mask requirements.

Who will be enforcing mask mandates?

Superintendent Burke Royster: Elementary kids are under the direct supervision of their teachers so teachers would be enforcing the mandate. In middle and high school, teachers patrolling the hallways are responsible. There are disciplinary actions GCS is planning to take, like moving kids to the virtual program who repeatedly have infractions on this rule. The exceptions must be medically documented.

Meals at School

The FANS meal plan has multiple scenarios for the levels. how will we know when FANS is moving between these plans?

Derek Lewis: FANS scenarios are aligned to either Virtual School, 100% eLearning or Attendance Plans 1,2,5.  They will implement the scenario that aligns to the attendance plan under which the district is operating.  Where it lists more than one possibility — Schedule Option 2 has students either eating in the cafeteria or in their classrooms — that is going to be dependent on the size and layout of the specific school and cafeteria, and therefore may vary from school to school. This may need to be communicated at the school level. 100% virtual students will be served the same way all year.

Will school meals be available for all students, regardless of whether they chose in-person or the virtual program?

School meals will be available for all students in all school-opening scenarios, including the 100% eLearning option (Attendance Plan 0) and for those that register for the Virtual Program.

Will free or low-cost be available?

Yes, the online Free and Reduced Price Meal Applications are now available for the 2020-2021 school year and can be accessed here: http://greenville.schoollunchapp.com. For more information regarding Free and Reduced Price Meal Applications please contact the Food and Nutrition Services office at 864-355-1251 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Will those families already on the free/reduced price meal plan carry over into this new school year?

Students that were on free or reduced meal status during this 2019-2020 school year will revert to full paid status on Tuesday, October 6th unless a new meal application is submitted and approved based on USDA eligibility guidelines. Students attending one of the 21 Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools are not required to complete free and reduced meal applications and will automatically receive free meals based on the school’s participation in that USDA program.

Positive COVID tests at school

If a child or teacher in a classroom has a confirmed positive COVID
test, will the entire classroom be notified or just those likely affected?

Derek Lewis: We will follow DHEC guidance at the time of the exposure. Based on CURRENT DHEC guidance, anyone who is exposed must quarantine for 14 days.  Exposure means 15 minutes or more within 6 feet of one another.  This is one reason being able to socially distance (plans 1 and 2) is so critically important. See this article for a detailed breakdown of this topic.

Will those students who are in quarantine be able to do schoolwork from home?

Yes, lessons will be recorded and they can do schoolwork for their classes from home.

Will we know which schools have positive cases of COVID?

GCS lists the number of cases and the schools they are at is at this link.

Middle School

Will Middle School lockers be used?

Derek Lewis: Locker use is a local school decision based on ability to distance.  Schools have reduced the amount of “stuff” kids need to bring with them, reducing the need for locker use.

Will Middle Schoolers switch classes?

While transitions will be minimized this year, middle schoolers will still have some classes that will require changing classes.


Please see this GCS Facebook live for longer answers on sports.

Is a negative covid test required before being able to participate in sports?

No, it’s not required.

When will football season start?

The first official practice will be September 8. First scrimmage is September 12 and the first game is September 25.

When will cross country and volleyball start?

First practice is August 24 and first competition is September 7.

When will girls tennis, girls golf and boys and girls swim start?

First practice August 17, first scrimmage August 24 and first contest August 31.

When will spring sports start?

Will remain as scheduled so it should start in January but that also is skill-specific.

On a zero day for in-person schools, will kids still be able to practice/play?

No, activities would be suspended. As long as they are in attendance, they will play.

Can students who are in the virtual program participate in sports?

Yes, they are able to participate in GCS sports if they want.

If a student goes to a school that isn’t their zoned school, can they still play sports at their zoned school?

The student has to play for the school they attend. So you would not be able to attend one school and play for another.

Will athletes in close contact sports need to play with masks?

This has not been determined yet.

Will football players be responsible for santizing pads and helmets?

To some degree yes but this year, when GCS will be using the electrostatic sprayer in the locker rooms, it will help to disinfect the equipment. Wipes, sprays, and hand santizers will be all over the locker rooms.

Virtual School Questions

Can I still register for virtual school?

While the deadline is passed, the application as of now is still open. If there is space available, GCS has indicated students who apply after July 27th could be accepted.

Is there any aid given for families who don’t have Internet?

Yes, money has been appropriated through the CARES Act to deliver free hot spots for 100,000 families who qualify and apply by the deadline. The application and more information is available here. The hot spot will be paid through December 2020

Since so much will be happening virtually, there were questions about digital access to content. I understood from our earlier conversations about YouTube that the District has a number of approved and not-approved digital platforms that teachers can access. Is either of those lists publicly available?
Derek Lewis: This list is on our website:

What will the process look like to obtain teachers for the virtual program if not enough have interviewed and been hired? What about if teachers choose to teach virtually – will they be able to get their jobs back in the classroom at a later date)

GCS has said in a live Q&A that teacher shortages are not an issue. While GCS cannot guarantee brick-and-mortar jobs will remain for teachers who choose the virtual program, they will make every effort to get them back into the classroom.

If I am in the in-person option in elementary school, and I have an online day approximately how many hours a day will I be in class?

Derek Lewis: Your time “in class” will not be continual.  Your teacher will provide a video or reading material or an original source to review and you will have work to do related to that.  This should be the case for each subject.  The amount of time spent on these will vary from child to child, but during Plans 1 and 2, the teacher is not available all day to be hosting Google Meets (as in 100% eLearning).  The teacher may have a Google Meet with the online students during his/her planning period.

How many hours will virtual school be in Elementary School?

Derek Lewis: Virtual school will follow a normal school -day schedule, especially at MS and HS where you will move from one Google Meet or recorded lesson to the next.  Teachers will deliver content, just as in a regular in-person class, followed by students doing work to reinforce learning.  Just as in in-person school, some students will do the work quickly and others slowly.

If multiple neighborhood children in the same grade select the virtual option, can a request be submitted that they all be placed with the same teacher?

It was recently stated in a recent QA that GCS is attempting to keep children from the same public schools in the same classes in virtual school. If your child is in a magnet school, GCS has said they will try to keep kids from same schools in the same virtual classes.

What will a typical Virtual Program day look like?

Jeff McCoy, GCS: The virtual program will look like a regular school day and broken up in blocks of 30 minutes, which are grade-level appropriate. Lessons may be 10 or 15 minutes for lower grades and then do smaller group lessons. Work will be assigned to the students not working in the small groups, much like it would happen at in-person school. High school will look more like a regular day and those schedules are being handled by each individual high school. The same schedule will hold for the virtual program. There will be independent work and lessons and breaks and related arts and challenge. We don’t expect students to be on a computer for 6.5 hours. Smaller kids will have work that can be done on paper, like handwriting.

How much hands on time do parents need to plan?

Jeff McCoy: We are planning for independent work but it does depend on the child. Kindergarten and first grade will probably take more hands on time from the parents, unless the child is unusually independent.

How will attendance be taken?

Jeff McCoy: It will depend on the student logging online every day. We understand that some kids will need to do sessions later at night or at different times and they just need to login and do the work every day.

Will there be homework for virtual school?

Jeff McCoy: We want everything to be done during the class work time during the day for elementary. For older grades, it’s possible they could have homework. If the kids need to take a break during the day and resume later, that’s fine.

What technology will the students use?

Jeff McCoy: Students will use Google Meets for interactive classes on their state-issued Chromebooks.

Can you complete virtual learning outside of the country?

Jeff McCoy: Technically, yes. You can do it anywhere. The reading group is the only lessons we can’t record and it will be personalized so teachers need to have students there together.

How many students will virtual academy elementary school students be assigned? Will they have more students than hybrid teachers?  

Jeff McCoy: 20-25 for grades K-1, 25-30 for grades 2-5, for grades 6-8 150-180.

 Will teachers teaching via eLearning and the Virtual program be using the Google GSuite of tools/apps or will they be using something else?

Jeff McCoy: All teachers will be using Google Classroom. For the younger ones, teachers may be choose Seesaw but GCS is recommending Google Meets.

For virtual learning on the days we do not attend in person, is it 4K-2nd paper work and 3rd-5th chrome books? Will we have “homework” on top of daily virtual work as well? Is the virtual learning sign on at a certain time and sign off a certain time? Or can it be done on the weekend/evenings?

Every student will receive a Chromebook. The homework question and timing is answered above. And regarding the time of logging in and doing work not during school hours, Jeff McCoy says yes, but it’s important to login each day and do those assignments. Reach out to the teacher to ask for more time or talk to them about your circumstances.

Will students use textbooks?

Jeff McCoy: Almost all our textbooks are now in digital format. Some things are being sent home like consumables. If parents want a textbook for their child, they can check one out if they think it will be helpful.

Will there be a list of supplies students need to purchase?

 Virtual program school supply list for K-5th grade is  available here.

How do LEAP days work for virtual students?

Jeff McCoy: Virtual students, if they are comfortable, can attend in the afternoons. The state is required to test all students, which will happen for the virtual students. If parents aren’t comfortable with that, parents can come by and pick up the Chromebooks another day.

Would students be able to take those LEAP tests if they don’t go to the LEAP days?

Jeff McCoy: Right now, we have no way to have students take them online. So if the student doesn’t go to LEAP week, they will not take those state-required assessment tests.

Will there be a Meet the Teacher?

Jeff McCoy: There will be a virtual Meet the Teacher night.

What about related arts?

Jeff McCoy: We will do performing arts, including band and chorus, both in-person and online. Related arts will look somewhat like the spring. Our teachers have been working on recording videos and lessons. Elementary students will still have an art, PE, and music block and have videos to go through them. Teachers are available. We’ve brought on teams of related arts instructors to teach for virtual.

Can students who are in the virtual program participate in sports?

Yes, they are able to participate in GCS sports if they want.

Will students need special supplies for art class?

Jeff McCoy: Depending on the grade level, we’ve tried to limit those and what parents will have to purchase.

If my child wants to be in orchestra and he/she is in the virtual program, who should we contact?

Jeff McCoy: You can contact your school and they will guide you through that.

Will students go to the Career Center courses?

These will continue to be done in-person and not virtual. It’s one day a week and those spaces are much larger than our normal classrooms. Sanitizing and cleaning is the same.

Will students have chemistry and biology labs?

Jeff McCoy: We do have some labs that are virtual and are considering the idea of having some in-person labs that may be on a Saturday. That may not be a requirement but we do want students to have the benefits of hands-on experiences, which are more lab-intensive.

What will virtual school look like for challenge and gifted students?

Jeff McCoy: It will look similar to in-person school where schools break it up on certain days. They will have the same amount of hours they would have on the elementary level. For middle school, we are still offering all the gifted & talented students. The same thing applies for SPED and ELL services.

Will kids be able to interact with each other?

Jeff McCoy: Yes, Google has fixed some of these issues and students were creating their own Google Meet sessions. Sometimes those sessions weren’t monitored. Once a teacher leaves that Google Meet, the meeting shuts down. The teacher can make Google Meets for students to work together and collaborate.

Can virtual students pick up library books?

Jeff McCoy: We should be able to make this happen but not positive. We have subscribed to several library repositories as well so we’ll have access to those for students.

Is the elementary reading group for school hours only?

Yes, because that’s when our teachers are available. We’ll record ELA and reading (but not reading group) and have assignments for them.

Chromebook Questions

Can we hook external hardware (headset, monitor) to the Chromebooks?  

Jeff McCoy: Yes, many of our students wear headphones. They have an HDMI port and should be able to hook it in (or purchase an adapter).

Are there Chromebook fees?

Jeff McCoy: No, not unless they lose them. Parents needs to pick them up on the LEAP week or on the following week.

What happens if our kid breaks or loses the Chromebook?

Jeff McCoy: Oftentimes we can track them if they are stolen. If they are broken, contact your school. We are setting up repair sites around the county. They will get a loaner Chromebook while the broken one is being repaired.

Can we use our own Chromebooks?

Jeff McCoy: Yes but some things won’t work as well on your own. Some times during the year, we will require online testing and we can only lockdown our own Chromebooks so you’ll need to use these.

Are Chromebooks touchscreen for Kindergarten?

No, they are not.

How will GCS handle tech problems for Chromebooks?

Jeff McCoy: Make sure you’re using GCS Chromebooks. We had to pivot quickly this past spring so hopefully this year, we won’t have similar problems. Sometimes kids aren’t logged into their Google account (as opposed to their parents’ account) and that will cause problems. There were certainly some things that didn’t work and we’ve trained teachers on how to set permissions and we have a whole tech support for the virtual programs that should be able to help.

Help! We can’t login to our Chrome book.

From GCS: If your student is having trouble logging into his or her Chromebook, please follow these steps. If help is still needed, please call 355-HELP or email [email protected]. To authenticate a district Chromebook, click on the GCSD Authentication icon on the Chromebook. Students will log in using their GCS username and password. They will need to authenticate the Chromebook for 6 hours, and this must be done EVERY DAY.

Graphic with information about student chromebooks

Questions that We Do Not Have Answered Yet

What is the plan for trades programs such as the Golden Strip or the Bond’s Center?

What about our children in foster care who utilize school based services like therapy?

How should/ could afterschool programs most effectively respond to the changes being made in school; that best serve families and children in need of these services?  

Will there be any programs or services to assist families that can’t afford childcare on the days that their children are not in school?

How will the charges work for afterschool this year?

Will K4 have a different schedule from the older students?

Is anything prepared for our ESL students? 

So with all the issues and responsibilities with school nurses, if they are out bc of exposure and the lack of sub nurses, will front office staff be responsible for the health rooms?

Do you have any information on what expectations are for non-teaching staff if we are on the hybrid schedule or on 100% e-learning? Do you know who or when we may know the expectations for making up hours?

Do kids need to bring anything in their LEAP day like a backpack to take home their chromebooks?

What if my child needs to be in supplemental programs such as reading enrichment, speech therapy, etc? Or is in a gifted program such as challenge?

If parents choose to homeschool, will they be able to take advantage of sped services still?  

Was there anything about car tags or buses for this first LEAP day? I’m confused how to pick up my kid on that first day without car tags and he’s a kindergartner. Or if buses are running or not? 

What is GCS doing to ensure that no student or parent is prevented from accessing the student’s education resources due to a language barrier – especially when education is virtual? In other words, what is GCS doing to enable students who are speakers of other languages access the needed resources, especially given that they may not have English speakers in the house? Will any educational material be offered in the student’s native language if school is virtual?

Do you have more questions or know the answer to one of the questions we listed? Let us know in the comments.

Greenville County School’s Upcoming LEAP Days: What You Need to Know

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A lot of our readers have been asking questions about Greenville County School’s upcoming LEAP days August 17 – 21, 2020. Who can attend LEAP days? Are LEAP days mandatory? When during the LEAP days is my child supposed to attend? What about the teachers, are they paid for these extra days? We have answers to these questions and more from Greenville County Schools.


Greenville County Schools Just Released Their Final Plan. Here is What You Need to Know.

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Greenville County Schools just released their 2020/2021 Return to School Parent Resource Guide. This plan is the final draft which is still pending approval.

Greenville County School’s stated primary goals in their final plan are:

  • to “return students in [their] traditional (non-virtual) programs to full-time, in-person instruction as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • to “keep students, employees, and and community safe”
  • that “any decision or recommendation will be based on objective information provided by diverse scientific, public health, and medical experts”
  • Their “return to in-person school will be a stepped process that allows [Greenville County Schools] to analyze trends before moving closer to [their] goal of full-time, in-person instruction.

Our Kidding Around readers that watched our Facebook Live with Derek Lewis on July 14, will likely remember that we learned that this fall is different than last spring in that the goals are to return the children to in-person school and that Greenville County Schools believes that a measured approach will allow them to more successfully bring the children back full-time without compromising safety.

While this is the “final plan”, there is a significant note at the beginning of the documentation.

“This is an outline of the Greenville County Schools Re-Opening Plan in response to COVID-19. Portions of this plan are subject to change if
their implementation as written is not effective or sustainable for our community.

The correlation between COVID spread and Attendance Plans is pending
approval by the South Carolina Department of Education and the Board of Trustees”

Greenville County Schools Virtual Option

  • Consistent, virtual instruction for the entire year
  • Certified GCS teachers
  • All students receive Chromebooks.
  • All students can continue to access their local school supports and activities.
  • Tests will be proctored remotely and instruction will be structured.
  • The deadline for enrolling in the virtual option is July 27th.

Greenville County Schools Traditional Options

The traditional option (in-person instruction) involves three scenarios that will be determined by the district, based on the COVID-19 spread-rate

  • Low Spread:  Traditional In-Person Instruction
  • Medium Spread: Hybrid: In-Person and eLearning
  • High Spread: 100% eLearning or minimal In-Person

When GCS is on 100% eLearning, students will have an experience similar to the Virtual Program, with structured chunks of instruction, proctored tests, and daily interaction with teachers. 

In the hybrid plan, students get the benefit of in-person, small group, intensive instruction one- or two-days a week.  The remainder of the week they will work remotely by watching instructional videos, reading, conducting research, and completing assignments.  Their classroom teacher will be available during his/her planning period if students need to ask a question or get clarification.

Attendance Plan five is 100% in-person learning, with students attending school five days a week. It is possible that during the upcoming year different attendance plans could be in effect for different schools or school levels, based on conditions ranging from the community spread rate for COVID-19 to variable weather conditions across the county.

Students who opt for our traditional school program will follow the district’s Attendance Plan Roadmap to determine in-person attendance at school. Under the GCS Roadmap, Plan 5 reflects a regular school schedule, with five-day-a-week, in-person instruction.  Attendance Plan 1 has ¼ of students in the school buildings each day, Monday through Thursday; Plan 2 has ½ of students in attendance each day Monday through Thursday; On Plan 5 all students are in attendance five days a week.

Social distancing is only possible on Attendance Plans 1 and 2, but a return to Attendance Plan 5 does not necessarily signal a return to “normal.”  All precautions will be followed until further notice.

You can fill out a form to request a change in your student’s color designation.

What Is Greenville’s COVID Spread Right Now and How Is It Measured?

DHEC ranks three data points as high, medium, or low for each county. The data points are how many people are sick per 100,000 people. Whether more or less people are getting sick in the community. How the percentage of people that receive a positive test of those that are tested.

Right now Greenville County registers as high in all three categories.

Didn’t the American Association of Pediatrics Say that Children Should Go Back to School?

Since their original statement recommending that children return to school the AAP has released a follow-up statement to clarify their position:

“Local school leaders, public health experts, educators and parents must be at the center of decisions about how and when to reopen schools, taking into account the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and the capacities of school districts to adapt safety protocols to make in-person learning safe and feasible. For instance, schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts. A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for return to school decisions.”

There Will Be Daily Temperature Checks for School Staff, Visitors, and Symptomatic Students

GCS will strictly adhere to COVID-19 prevention protocols, including daily temperature checks and health screenings for employees and any school visitors allowed beyond the office.  Students who are symptomatic must also be screened.

Social-distancing Will Be Maintained As Much As Possible

  • Students, teachers and other staff must maintain social-distancing (six-feet of physical distance in all directions) throughout the school day.
  • Social-distancing will be required on Attendance Plan 1 and when possible on Plans 2 and 5. 
  • To assist in this effort, class transitions will be staggered.
  • Hallways will be marked with lanes to maintain spacing. Visual cues and reminders will be placed throughout buildings. 
  • Bathroom breaks will be staggered. 
  • Entrances will be monitored to prevent overcrowding.   

Masks Will Be Required When Social Distancing Is Not Possible

  • Masks will be worn by staff and students (grades 2-12) when social-distancing (6 ft.) cannot be maintained. This includes the hallways, bathrooms, entering and leaving the buildings, the bus, and when working in small groups.
  • Students in preK-1st grade will be encouraged to wear masks but not required to.
  • Medical documentation will be required for a medical exemption.
  • Required distancing is only possible in Attendance Plans 1 and 2. 
  • Visual cues will be in place to remind everyone to follow precautions.
  • Masks must be cloth or disposable and must cover nose and mouth securely.
  • Families are expected to provide their children’s masks, but free masks will be available for those on free or reduced meal status.

Meal Procedures Will Vary Depending on the Plan

  • All students will receive free breakfast.
  • In Plan 1 (1 day of in-person school): Students will eat in the cafeteria.
  • In Plan 2 (2 days of in-person school): Students will eat in the cafeteria OR classroom depending  on the layout of the school and other factors.
  • In Plan 5 (5 days of in-person school): Students will eat in their classrooms.
  • Meals will be offered to all eLearning and Virtual students. Note: We believe that this is for students that qualify for free or reduced meals.
  • There will be no guests at lunch.

Disinfecting and Air Quality Protocols Will be Followed

Students and employees can rest assured that all protocols will be followed to keep GCS buildings safe. 

  • Outdoor air ventilation rates have been adjusted for maximum air exchange. 
  • All domestic water systems have been flushed. 
  • Custodians will be equipped with electrostatic sprayers to provide quick and thorough sanitation of large spaces.
  • High-touch areas will be sanitized regularly throughout the day. Desks will be sanitized between occupants. 
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided in all classrooms and throughout  all facilities. 
  • Restroom soap dispensers will be checked and filled regularly.
  • All water fountains will be turned off and no-touch water bottle stations will be installed. Students will be encouraged to bring water bottles. Disposable cups will be provided.


Children will still have recess and it will be outdoors as much as possible. Students can take off their masks if they are social distancing during recess.


Visitors and volunteers will not have access to the interior to the school. They will remain in the office and will be required to wear a mask. If circumstances require the visitor to enter the school, they will be escorted at all times and required to wear a mask.

You will not be allowed to visit your child’s school beyond the office area. This includes PTA and SIC members and will be the policy for all plans including Plan 5.


  • The buses will be cleaned and disinfected twice a day.
  • Students will wear masks on the bus.
  • Buses will only seat 50% of capacity.
  • Students from the same household may sit together.

Field Trips

All in-person field trips are currently suspended.

Special Education

Students that are in self-contained elementary/middle school classes will meet 2 days a week in both Plan 1 and Plan 2.

Quarantine/Exposure Mandates

Exposure to COVID-19 may result in students and staff being isolated away from school.  GCS will follow DHEC guidelines related to mandated quarantines and student/family notifications.  Parents and employees are required to monitor themselves and their children for COVID-19 symptoms.  Students and staff should be excluded from school if they have:

  • Any one (1) of the following:
    • Fever—or
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing—or
    • Loss of taste or smell—or
    • New or worsening cough
  • Any two (2) of the following:
    • Sore throat
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Chills
    • Fatigue
    • Headache
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea or vomiting

Greenville County Schools states that they do not have have enough substitute teachers on a normal year to meet their needs. If their staff becomes sick it will impact the safety of students as it will affect student supervision. Staff health must be maintained.

The final plan states that “students or staff need medical documentation
to return to school.” We are not currently sure what medical situations this applies to.


There will be no perfect attendance awards this year.

Attendance will be taken by logging into Google classroom for eLearning and Virtual School.

Live Instruction will be recorded for students that miss it.

Extracurricular Activities

The plan includes a number of details on extracurricular activities such as that children should come dressed for the activities. Here is what stood out to us:

  • When possible, masks with mouthpiece slits should be worn in band.
  • Bell covers will be recommended for band instruments, especially indoors.
  • There will be no indoor choral or ensemble singing until there is more information on how to do so safely.
  • Any allowed theater performances (plan 5) will be streamed virtually with no audience.
  • Opening dates for sports have been announced but there will be no extracurricular activities in Plan 0.
  • Athletes will be required to wear a “scarf” when not actively participating.

Pros and Cons of Returning to In-Person Instruction

The final plan also includes a number of pages that outline what virtual and eLearning schedules, expectations, and grading will look like this year.


Information on LEAP Days was also released today.

Greenville County Schools has set aside the week of August 17-21 for LEAP (Learn Evaluate Analyze Prepare) days. The South Carolina Legislature requires school districts to offer these instruction days to students in response to the COVID-19 school closures. The first official day of school in Greenville County is Monday, August 24.

K-8 graders who plan to attend traditional, in-person school will have the option to attend for ½ day based on the GCS Roadmap Attendance Plan 1.  (7:45-10:15 for elementary students, 8:30-10:45 for middle schoolers.) “Blue” students whose last names begin with the letters A-D will attend on Monday, “red” students (letters E-K) attend Tuesday, “green” students (L-Q) attend Wednesday and “purple” students (R-Z) attend Thursday. 

Students in grades K-8 who sign up for our Virtual Program (deadline July 27) will attend Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday OR Thursday during the afternoon (12:00-2:30 for elementary, 12:30-3:00 for middle). They will also follow our color coded grouping according to their last names.

Friday is a make-up day for any student who was unable to attend on their color-coded day.

During their ½ day of LEAP, students will meet their teachers and the classmates who share their Attendance Plan color grouping and practice social distancing.  They will also be issued/trained/refreshed in the use of the Chromebooks and Google Classroom and take tests that are required by the state to be conducted in person to help determine their academic strengths and weaknesses.

High school students will ONLY pick up their Chromebooks on August 17-20 at their high school following Attendance Plan 1.

Breakfast and lunch will be served each day to students in the K-8 LEAP program.  Students who attend must be enrolled in GCS to attend LEAP.  Transportation will be provided to those who completed their transportation forms by July 15 and requested bus service.  Parents should visit the GCS website or call 355-3111 to learn how to enroll their children if they were not in GCS last year or for information on requesting bus transportation.

In keeping with the original calendar, teachers will still report to school August 10 for teacher work days used to prepare for the new year.

Do you have questions? We will interview Derek Lewis tonight at 8 pm on our Kidding Around Greenville Facebook page. Send your questions to [email protected].

Greenville County Schools Moves Start Date

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Greenville County Schools just announced that they have moved their start date for this fall to August 24, 2020. This change will not affect when school will end in 2021.

This is the communication that Greenville County Schools released:

Greenville County Schools has moved the start-date for the 2020-21 school year from August 17 to August 24, which is one week later than our original plan.  The main reason for this change is to allow us time to reconstruct class rosters and allocate teachers in response to the new Virtual Program option.  Approximately 10,000 students have already enrolled ahead of the July 27 deadline to sign up.  

This change in the start-date will not affect the end-date of the school calendar.  Days will be made up as follows:

  • We are an approved eLearning district now, which means “snow days” are not required to be built into the calendar. Those three days will become school days
  • The first Monday of November, the day before the election, will change from a student and teacher holiday to a school day. Election Day, as mandated by law, will continue to be a student/teacher holiday.
  • A teacher workday/student holiday on January 15 will become a school day.
  • This gives us five additional attendance days to balance the five days we would have been in school from August 17-21.

In keeping with the original calendar, teachers will still report to school August 10 for teacher work days used to prepare for the new year. Teachers will not be required to work the week of August 17.

For more information on Greenville County Schools plan for fall, see our article detailing their most recent communications.

Greenville County Schools Issue Their Response to Governor McMaster

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Today Governor McMaster issued a strong request for schools to reopen and allow all parents to choose between 5-day in-person instruction and virtual school. We covered the press conference here.

Greenville County Schools has issued their response:

We are incredibly concerned about the Governor’s comments this morning suggesting schools in South Carolina should re-open with five-day-a-week, in-person instruction.  His comments reflect a disregard for the recommendations of DHEC and the CDC that safeguard the health and safety of students, as well as the adults who serve them and are more susceptible to complications from this disease. They not only show a lack of respect for the precautions and protocols communicated by public health professionals, but are also a rejection of the AccelerateED Task Force recommendations.  They further reflect a refusal to acknowledge that according to many objective sources, including Johns Hopkins University, our state is being ravaged by this virus, and ranks third in the percentage of positive tests per million residents, ahead of all but two states (Arizona and Florida) and every other nation. 

In his own remarks, the Governor called on schools to follow the health and safety protocols recommended by public health officials, without acknowledging that it is impossible for schools to practice social distancing in our facilities, or on our buses, when all students are in attendance. Additionally, if we are required to adhere to 50% capacity on state buses, there is no opportunity to operate schools on a regular schedule.  In GCS, it will take approximately six hours to transport students to school and six hours to transport them home if all buses are at 50% capacity, and all students are in attendance each day.  

“It seems our focus should be on reducing the spread of the virus to allow for a safe return to full-time, in-person instruction by implementing state-wide measures that could help take South Carolina off the COVID hot-spot list,” said GCS Superintendent W. Burke Royster.  “As a state, we are deeply divided between those who believe in a ‘return-to-school at all costs’ platform and those who recognize that fully re-opening schools could endanger our students, employees, and communities, and exacerbate the spread of the virus.  Lost in all of this is the voice of moderation that looks to objectively combine a knowledge of educational operations and environments with factual information on the spread of disease, and the capacity of the healthcare systems.”

“This type of thoughtful, moderated approach is reflected in State Superintendent Molly Spearman’s decision to rely on the consideration, advice, and recommendations made by the AccelerateED Task Force and the advice of medical and public-health professionals, after a considerable amount of time and resources were spent studying the re-opening of schools,” said Royster.  “Her approach mirrors the philosophy of the GCS plan to safely reopen schools this fall.”

The Governor called on Spearman to approve return-to-school plans, due from districts this Friday, only if they provide parents with an option between virtual school for some and full-time, in-person school for all other students.  By contrast, Superintendent Spearman stated that our goal must be to return to five-day-a-week in-person instruction as soon as it is safe to do so, without turning a “blind eye to the health and safety of students and staff when the spread of the virus of our communities is among the highest in the world.” She went on to say that “school leaders, in consultation with public health experts, are best positioned to determine how in-person operations should be carried out to fit the needs of their local community.” 

“We support Superintendent Spearman’s statement,” confirmed Royster, “And we encourage her to approve any return-to-school plans that feature adherence to public health recommendations in combination with a hybrid model focused on progressing toward a safe and timely return to full-time, in-person instruction as recommended, by AccelerateED.”

Important Points

  • Individuals cannot socially distance in schools if all students attend on the same day.
  • Students cannot socially distance on buses, even when at half capacity.
  • Though children generally suffer fewer serious complications from this disease, there are still risks to pediatric patients.
  • School-age children can spread COVID-19, even if they are asymptomatic.
  • Though the Governor said we have an “abundance” of teachers in this state, in reality there is a critical shortage.
  • Approximately 30% of the GCS workforce is 50 or above.
  • Even in normal years, we do not have an adequate number of substitute teachers during certain times of the year, and we do not have a substitute pool for other positions.  A high rate of employee illness, combined with subs’ possible unwillingness to endanger themselves, causes us to have grave concerns about our ability to supervise and teach children. This results in concerns about both academic achievement and safety.
  • The Governor shut down schools across the state when there were 28 cases and no deaths in the State. As of July 12, South Carolina had 56,485 cases and 950 total deaths.

Greenville County Schools announced yesterday that their final plan will be published on July 21. You can find our information on Greenville County School’s current plans here.

Don’t miss: School Decisions for Fall 2020: In-person or Virtual Public School, Private School or Homeschool? We’re covering the options and collecting information to help our readers make decisions for their families.

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!