Aiken County parents worry as district calls for students’ return Monday

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 5:02 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The decision to transition students back to in-person learning in Aiken County has been met with mixed reactions from parents. Some say it’s a great idea, and others think it’s still too soon.

“Using our kids as guinea pigs is not okay," parent Tiffany Aranda said.

Tiffany Aranda has six kids in the Aiken County Public School District, with two at each level. And she’s all for sending her kids back four days a week, but she fears safety will be a problem.

“It worries me," Aranda said. "Especially having children with auto-immune problems, sickle cell traits, stuff like that. I’ve had my child get hospitalized for something as simple as an upper respiratory infection,” Aranda said. “COVID-19 is supposed to be 10 times worse than that. It’s scary.”

But for the school district, this has always been the ultimate goal. On Monday, October 12, elementary students will return for in-person learning, for four days a week.

Two weeks later, middle and high schoolers will do the same.

And on Nov. 4, all students will be back in-person for a full five-day week. But this doesn’t include AIKEN iNNOVATE students, who will stay virtual the rest of the semester.

“It was a massive undertaking to get teachers trained, pull the teachers that we need for AIKEN iNNOVATE to start with. These aren’t things we can overnight turn around,” Mike Rosier, communications director for the district, said.

That means only about two-thirds of the student population will be part of the transition.

On top of that, the district will continue daily cleanings, and have masks requirements, even in the classroom. Rosier says the Back-to-School Safety Committee will continue to monitor case numbers, and the district will make changes if they need to.

“We’re always going to keep our options open depending upon scenarios that we face,” Rosier said.

And parents, right now, there is no option to switch either. If you chose hybrid learning at the beginning of the year, your students will have to phase back to traditional learning.

If you chose AIKEN iNNOVATE your students will have to stay virtual for the rest of the semester.

The district says they may have to make changes as the process goes on, and they’re just asking for patience from families.

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