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Jasper Co. students return to the classroom after two weeks of virtual learning

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 11:41 PM EDT
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JASPER COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Jasper County students went back to the classroom after a rise in COVID cases in schools caused them to switch to virtual learning.

The school board met Monday night to discuss how the district is working to vaccinate students and help students who fell behind during the virtual learning period.

The district has come up with several strategies to help students with reading, math and career training. The district is also bringing vaccine clinics to eligible students.

They had their first vaccine clinic Tuesday at one of the district’s football teams.

Nearly 2,700 Jasper Co. students returned to the classroom after spending 2 weeks at home for virtual learning.

The district says they’ve put in several strategies to address learning loss because of the pandemic.

“From JCSD there are many factors that have played a role in student performance. Lack of consistent instruction, the type of modeling of instruction from virtual to in person, navigating COVID with staff and students and other variables have played a role,” said Dr. Jenna Vaughn, Director of Accountability and Early Childhood Programs.

Leaders say they’ve added recovery staff to help with reading and math, hired specialists to help improve science and math scores, developed intervention programs, 24/7 tutoring and more.

When it comes to addressing COVID in schools, the district says they plan on expanding in-school testing. However, the district’s medical advisor says he’s very concerned about low vaccination rates in the county.

“I think we’ve developed the protection we need to keep track of the safety in the school environment. But we have to always be aware that the community remains a hotspot. Less than 30% of people in Jasper County are vaccinated and that really creates an environment in which the virus is going to spread,” said Dr. Jim Gault, Medical Advisor.

Dr. Gault says they are requiring unvaccinated faculty and staff to wear a mask or test weekly for the virus. The district is also hosting vaccine clinics at schools. They are hoping vaccinated students will encourage other eligible students to get vaccinated.

To clarify, just last week the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the City of Columbia’s mask requirement for students and staff in daycares, elementary and middle schools.

Governor Henry McMaster’s proviso does not allow school districts to use state funds to require students and employees to wear a mask at education facilities.

You can find a link to watch Jasper County Board of Education’s entire meeting on their website.

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