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School districts respond differently as COVID cases pick up across CSRA

Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 6:15 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2021 at 5:23 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’ve heard a lot of concern from parents about their kids being back in school right now.

Much of that concern is in Columbia County, where many kids will be back in the classroom for a full five days a week.

As of Jan. 15, we found all five Columbia County High schools have reached the double-digits in COVID-19 cases in students.

As for Aiken County schools, in-person students are on a hybrid schedule. There, we found a little more than 1,000 students are quarantined right now, which is more than 4.5 percent of all their students.

Case numbers are rising across the community, but each school district is responding differently.

“If everyone is wearing a face covering, then you can be together safely,” Columbia County Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway said.

Carraway says large COVID-19 exposure isn’t happening at school, despite going face to face five days a week and no social distancing in some areas.

“They’re safe. Safer than they would be out in the public, mixing and mingling and hanging out together,” Carraway said.

Richmond County schools are going back face-to-face learning.

“In this pandemic, we’ve balanced student achievement and student safety. Both are very important in our core to the work that we do,” Richmond County’s Lynthia Ross said.

The school system expects around 60 percent of students to return for face-to-face classes.

Back in Columbia County, some parents are calling for hybrid learning. While others like Krina Patel are content with the decision.

“As long as they are being safe and having their masks, social distancing and washing hands, I’m happy with it,” she said.

Columbia County is planning to stay five days a week.

“Our expectation is the longer we are in school doing all of these right things the numbers should continue to fall,” Carraway said.

Aiken County Public School District officials say they will stay in their hybrid model until cases dictate otherwise. If cases continue to get worse, they will make more restrictive decisions on a school-by-school basis.

In Edgefield County, students went back to remote learning Thursday. The superintendent told us they wanted to be proactive, and they weren’t comfortable with case numbers.

He says school officials are going as far as delivering thumb drives and paper packets to homes, all to keep students engaged.

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