Aiken County schools to start Aug. 31, but board still has plans to make

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 8:57 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2020 at 9:18 AM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Sixty-nine South Carolina school districts are awaiting approval on their back-to-school plans, including Aiken County.

Superintendent King Laurence and other district leaders approved a model that allows for a four-phase plan for students to start the school year with a hybrid schedule — with some attending classes on campus and some learning at home. Or the virtual option through AIKEN iNNOVATE.

But Laurence said during an interview last week with News 12 that he’s having to balance the desire for face-to-face instruction with safety and health protocols.

School was also originally set to start back on Aug. 17, but in a 6-2 vote Wednesday night, the Aiken County school board pushed that back to Aug. 31.

This push back comes just weeks after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster recommended all schools push the start date back to Sept. 8.

The state Department of Education says this recommendation was made so districts can have a better look at COVID-19 case numbers and give more time to come up with a plan.

“As I’ve said from the very beginning of this, the safety of our students, the health of our students and our teachers is the primary responsibility,” Laurence said.

After the vote, the board talked calendar options and how the two weeks will be made up. Laurence says they could use more distance learning for it.

But even that has its own challenges.

“Unfortunately, we’re just not there yet,” Laurence said. “We have been designated - or about to be designated as an emerging district when it comes to one-on-one technology which would, a year from now, allow us to use that option..”

In the end, the board unanimously passed a new calendar option which will have students attend school on Jan. 4 and move the Labor Day holiday to a school day.

The final day of school remains the same, June 11.

Parents still have time to register their children before Aug. 31. For more information on how to register, find that here.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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