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Pandemic prompts more changes in Aiken County schools

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 11:12 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Big changes are on the way for families across Aiken County.

We’re only two days into the first week of elementary students being in the classroom full time, and the Aiken County Board of Education made more decisions about the school year.

The board voted to clarify and nail down the guidelines for the mask rules, which includes disciplinary action if disobeyed, funding for more plexiglass in classrooms, and sending a survey to all employees to see how willing they would be to complete a COVID-19.

“Just so there’s a better understanding of asymptomatic people in our schools,” board member Cam Nuessle said.

Even though the board did not formally discuss it, concern over moving back to four days a week was heard inside the meeting:

“Personally, as a student, I feel that my health, the teacher’s health, and the faculty of the school’s health is at risk.”

“I understand the hybrid kids are stressed about the hybrid schedule. I also have kids who are stressed about grades and the challenge of losing three days of direct instruction. This week, those same students are asking about their lives.”

And outside the meeting:

“I would love to see my kids every single day. But I want to have my kids every single day in a way that is safe for them and for their families and for me too. It’s just not an ideal situation right now for everybody to be back in one room,” said Kathrine Williams, a teacher in the district.

Williams was alone protesting outside, but her concerns were shared by others, too

“I was honestly scared. And it honestly did not hit me as hard as it did until I talked to my students the next day,” she said. “They are scared to have more people in the room, and they’re scared to have the opportunity to be exposed more often.”

The board could not make a decision Tuesday night on suspending semester exams for high schoolers. Board members wanted more time to consider all the options.

Superintendent King Laurence did announce that virtual parents will eventually get the option to switch to face-to-face instruction. However as of right now, those already on the traditional model will not get the opportunity to switch to virtual.

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