City, Coronavirus

Back to school in the Lowcountry

Classroom | Image via Pexels

Students, parents, and teachers all have questions about what this school year will bring. 2020 has been unprecedented to say the least, so we did some digging to help break it down.

What we can all plan for is another year of learning + growing, no matter if students are in-person or virtual.

The first day of school will look different this year. So let’s take a look at what we know – plus your tips on getting back to the school year while staying safe + healthy.

Here’s a little background info –

Who said what? 

🗣️ Gov. Henry McMaster spoke about reopening schools at the State House on July 15. McMaster called for all schools to reopen in the fall and for school districts to allow parents to decide between five days a week in the classroom or virtual learning. The governor also recommended that schools wait to reopen until Sept. 8 in order to allow more time to finalize reopening plans. 

🗣️ SC Education Superintendent Molly Spearman agreed with McMaster about the importance of reopening schools. However, she said the decision of when to open should happen at the local level and should take into account community infection rates. More information on guidelines about back to school have been recommended by Accelerate ED. The full report can be found hereSuperintendent Spearman must approve all back-to-school return plans made my SC school districts.

🗣️ SC for ED supports districts following DHEC guidelines based on what’s happening in local communities. The organization supports providing virtual options until the number of positive cases of COVID-19 reduces. 

🗣️ Palmetto State Teachers Association agrees that reopening decisions should be based on virus data and said that it could be potentially dangerous to reopen schools if health conditions do not improve. 

🗣️ The CDC announced on July 23 that it has updated its guidelines to recommend that schools reopen in the fall. 

Learning options

Charleston County School District presented + approved its Safe Restart plan late July, which includes both in-person + online learning options for students that were selected by parents by Aug. 5. See timeline + next steps of the plan here.

Virtual Program

CCSD will offer a K-12 Virtual Academy – a 9-week online program for K-8th grade students and a semester long for high school students.

In-person learning

CCSD recently announced that in-person learning will resume, but capacity is not expected to exceed 25% of average in-person attendance. There is a temporary stay-at-home remote instruction plan for parents who wish to slowly integrate their student back into the classroom.

Temporary remote instruction

CCSD recently announced a temporary stay-at-home remote instruction plan for parents who wish to slowly integrate their student back into the classroom. This option adds to parents’ current choices of in-person learning + virtual academy.

Supplies 

Back to school shopping may be more difficult to complete this year. Most teachers create their own lists specific to the needs of their classrooms. Reach out to your child’s teacher to see what that list includes + be prepared for extra cleaning supplies this year. To ensure your student is prepared for a hybrid model, plan to have a set of school supplies for home + for the classroom. As an added precaution if you want to grab a few reusable masks for your student, check out these masks for kids

School calendar

You can see the full calendar here.

The anticipated start date for the 2020-21 school year for Charleston County is Sep. 8. June 18, 2021 will be the last day of school, as of now. From the CCSD website:Dates are being finalized for the revised Academic Calendar (i.e., progress reports, report cards, employee attendance dates). The official 2020-2021 Academic Calendar will be posted on this page as soon as possible.”

#ProTips for at-home learning

Have kids get dressed like they usually would for school. This helps to establish routines and expectations for productivity during the day.

○ Structure is just as important as ever. It is recommended that students have a dedicated workspace away from televisions and other distractions.

Create a schedule that works for the whole family — and stick to that schedule for consistency. For parents: establish your own schedule and communicate with other family members so they understand how to respect your time.

○ Take breaks. A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes for every 60 minutes of work completed. Additionally, use the National PTA’s guidelines for homework10 minutes per grade level, e.g. a 3rd grader might be assigned ~30 minutes of supplemental work outside of regular school instruction.

Help maintain children’s social connections by connecting them virtually with classmates for study groups, fun activities, or simply to chat during lunchtime. Find out more here.

Reader tips

“Stay positive!” -Tamar S.

“Keep the big picture in mind – daily when you’re struggling to get your kid to focus, and overall as you’re trying to decide whether to send him or her back. We want what’s best for our kid, but we need to recognize that we are members of a community and we have a responsibility to look out for our neighbors, too.” -Namella P.

“I think a predictable, established routine is necessary for most children, especially children with special needs.” -Marsha M.

“Reading to or with children is extremely important as is ensuring that older students read at least 30 minutes a day.” -Dee G.