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Aiken County schools adapt learning schedule ahead of pandemic travel

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 6:19 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - It was a “marathon” meeting from Aiken County school officials that helped decide just how kids will learn in the county with the holidays coming up.

It includes being completely virtual for three days next week before the Thanksgiving Break.

More than 1,200 students and staff are quarantined in the county, and it took a more than 4-hour board meeting to bring big changes.

Aiken County made it two weeks with everyone on a five-day schedule, but the situation is different now.

“In the last two weeks, we’ve had a tremendous spike in quarantine numbers,” Mike Rosier of Aiken County Public Schools said.

But Rosier says that’s not the only reason they’re making changes. They’re also struggling to find substitute teachers.

“Going remote next week will alleviate some of that because we can’t have classrooms that are not staffed,” he said.

So, here’s the new plan:

From Monday through Wednesday of next week, all students will learn remotely.

Then when they come back from Thanksgiving Break, elementary students will go to four days in-person instruction.

Middle and high schoolers will go back to their A/B hybrid schedule.

“Not even giving parents a week’s time to make arrangements, it’s very difficult,” Heather Ely said.

Ely’s child is in the Aiken Innovate program this semester, but parents had to decide last week if they would stay virtual.

“I wish they would’ve at least given us a chance to say, ‘Okay, at the end of the break we need a decision from you,’” she said.

Some parents expressed their thoughts on social media as well with one saying she needed her kids to go five days a week, and another parent asking them to put safety first.

Aiken County says they are trying to do that, and they’re working on a new data system to decide when to change their learning model. It’s a “three-tiered system” to decide how different schools will be learning.

“Just trying to figure out that threshold, so that we can have maybe some parameters,” the board said.

The school system says these numbers will have to go down before anything changes next semester. And they will be working the next few weeks to get more laptops to students.

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