Aiken County votes ‘to get a clearer picture’ on opening in-person learning

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 11:19 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - South Carolina’s governor wants students back in the classroom sooner than later, but school leaders in Aiken County say, they need more time and more data.

“Just like any school year, there’s that honeymoon period'...”

A honeymoon period with enough numbers to lead to a decision. That is what spurred the back-to-school advisory committee to vote to delay the date for elementary schools to start face-to-face instruction.

“There’s some trends to suggest we’re doing pretty good and others that suggest we aren’t,” John Bradley, a school board member, said. “And I do think we need to get a little clearer picture of what’s going on.”

In its original plan, Aiken County elementary students were supposed to return to school a five-day a week schedule on September 21. But that plan has changed after leaders decided to take a closer look at the positive COVID-19 cases in their schools.

“The total number of people impacted started out in the teens, it has gone in the 40s, and 50s, and that is that’s almost doubled from the last week,” Bert Postell, chair of the advisory committee, said.

So, the board unanimously voted to postpone that return date and wait to decide on October 6.

The board will then decide whether to have elementary kids return starting October 12 or 19.

“We were impressed by the decline in cases across the state. However, the increase in childhood cases, as reported by AAP was a concern,” Postell said.

So far, the district reports 122 people are quarantined. And 53 students and 33 teachers have been quarantined in the past week. The majority of those in quarantine were exposed to the virus outside of school.

But as the kids continue hybrid learning, for now, the district asks everyone for a bit of patience.

“This isn’t something we’ve ever done before. Everyone is overworked everyone’s stressed,” Keith Liner, board chairman, said. “This year, it’s probably much more difficult than it ever has been before.”

For any parents wondering if they can change their kids' learning option -- as of right now the district says they do not have the means or personnel for parents to switch to the virtual AIKEN iNNOVATE option.

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