Decision on reopening S.C. schools expected later this week

Decision on reopening S.C. schools expected later this week
South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman says she believes "a very good decision" on reopening schools will be announced this week. (Source: Molly Spearman/Facebook)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/WIS) - South Carolina’s education superintendent says she believes “a very good decision” on the remainder of the school year will be made later this week.

Molly Spearman said Monday afternoon she is working closely with Gov. Henry McMaster in deciding how to handle the rest of the school year.

She said she recently surveyed all of the district superintendents in the state about the possibility of reopening schools.

"I'll tell you that overwhelmingly they said they don't think it's in our best interest to go back to school," she said.

Spearman says the average size of South Carolina schools is about 700 students and that it goes as high was Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, which has more than 4,000 students. A school bus may carry about 75 students.

"So it's almost impossible to do good social distancing," she said, adding that all of that is being taken into consideration and that she believes "a very good decision" will be made.

She also addressed concerns from worried parents who say they would not allow their children to return to the classroom during a pandemic.

“I certainly understand that and I do think people are very, very worried and they and they should be, and I am, too. I would tell you that the governor is very concerned as well.”” Spearman told WIS-TV Monday afternoon. “We have heard you, we’ve heard from parents, we’ve heard from district superintendents and we do believe that our number one priority is the health and safety of our students and our teachers,” Spearman told WIS-TV Monday afternoon.

She said the decision will be done "in the best interest of our students and our teachers and faculty."

Spearman said with respect to distance learning, 85 percent to 90 percent has been going well.

"There are many students who haven't missed a beat," she said. "Everything has just gone beautifully."

She said school leaders have changed policies because they have been learning as they go. But she raised concerns about some students who have not been in contact with their schools.

"There are a handful that we haven't heard from and that really worries me," she said.

She encouraged students and parents to reach out to their teachers.

"You're not just going to get a grade just because we're out of school," she said. "You need to do your work, and you need to try to do your best. And I understand that many folks are under difficult situations. You may be ill, people in your family may be ill, or your parents may have lost a job, I know there's tremendous stress and schoolwork is not your most important thing. We want you to take care of your health and your mental health, but you need to try to do your best on your schoolwork as well."

McMaster’s earlier executive order closed all state schools through the end of April. McMaster has said he wants to start reopening part of the economy by May 1.

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