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Aiken County school leaders work to keep kids, staff safe

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 7:30 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 25, 2021 at 8:01 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Several of our school districts said this school year was going to be smoother than last year because of what they learned, but that’s turning out to not be the case.

Aiken County Public Schools Superintendent King Laurence says with just one week in, this school year is already more challenging. Some parents say more needs to be done, and others say it’s fine how it is despite the rising cases.

Sarah Alexander is a nurse with a child in elementary school.

“We need to do what we can to keep the kids safe while they’re in school the best we can with the resources that we have,” she said.

And Ashley Murphy is a mother of three kids in Aiken County schools.

“This virus is going to continue to spread no matter the precautions the school takes,” she said. “I wouldn’t say that I’m any more concerned today than I was six or eight or 12 months ago.”

The district feels they’re doing all they can to keep students and staff safe, but their hands are tied.

“It would be very very easy to feel that way,” said Mike Rosier, spokesman for the school district.

LATEST COVID STATISTICS FROM AIKEN COUNTY SCHOOLS:

That’s because there are no more mitigation strategies left to do. They can’t do hybrid learning, and can only go virtual with approval from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. The district isn’t planning to challenge the state’s ban on mask mandates like Richland County did in Columbia, even though their numbers show fewer COVID cases.

“We would love to be able to have those options but the fact of the matter is we don’t. We are playing with the cards that we’re dealt and doing the best that we possibly can,” he said.

So for now Aiken County plans to stick to their original back-to-school plan. That means hand sanitizer, air purifiers, extra cleaning, and social distancing when possible.

“Right now we’re doing everything we possibly can do to mitigate the spread in our schools,” said Rosier.

At Tuesday nights meeting the district pleaded with parents and students to “Do what you can” to stop the spread. That means wearing a mask and getting vaccinated. The same message we’ve all been hearing for some time.

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