With rising COVID-19 cases in Greenville County, Greenville County Schools released a statement on Thursday, Nov. 19, urging students, parents and the community to follow the safety recommendations from health experts to help students return to full in-person instruction as soon as possible.
If positive cases continue to rise in the county, students who attend in-person instruction will have to go back to eLearning full time, Superintendent Burke Royster said.
“We are not planning to go backwards on our road map, nor do we wish to do so,” said Royster. “But it would be irresponsible of us not to prepare for that possibility, given the current trend.”
Recommendations on preventing the spread of the virus include wearing a mask when in public, avoiding large gatherings, frequently washing or sanitizing hands and high-touch surfaces, staying home and away from others when sick, and seeking medical assistance when running a fever, developing a cough, experiencing shortness of breath or losing the sense of taste or smell.
The school district reported that the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 in schools is lower than getting it in the wider community. While schools seem to be less risky environments than other places, Royster said in the statement that there is a chance to return to eLearning full time if the number of teachers and substitutes becomes insufficient.
Teachers in the school district who have mild symptoms of COVID-19 may still teach remotely; however, there must be an adult in each classroom responsible for the students. Due to the decrease in substitutes accepting assignments from the school district, media specialists, school counselors, instructional coaches and administrators are all being called on to help supervise classes in addition to conducting their normal duties.
“In addition to normal employee absences, we are currently averaging over 150 vacancies each day as a result of isolation due to a positive COVID diagnosis or quarantining due to direct exposure or possible symptoms,” said Royster. About 40 teachers are absent each day due to having a positive COVID-19 test and another 110 are absent due to potential exposure to the novel coronavirus.
“By comparison, 29 employees were in isolation and 66 in quarantine on Nov. 1. We want to keep schools open for in-person instruction, move forward with our plan to return middle school students to full-time face-to-face, and increase high school in-person attendance, but we need the cooperation of the community,” Royster added.
Teachers have been asked to prepare eLearning lessons in case of a significant increase in cases over the upcoming holidays that requires the school district to go 100% to eLearning.
You can find out more information about COVID-19 including how to stay safe and how to get tested by going to https://scdhec.gov/covid19.