South Carolina AccelerateEd Task Force meets for the first time, local administrators weigh in on helping their districts

The task force is meeting again next Tuesday and Thursday for more discussions.

Task force looks at how to reopen SC schools in August

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTV) -The South Carolina state education superintendent says students lost 30 percent of face-to-face time with their teachers since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Now, plans are in the works for students returning in the fall.

Administrators from all over South Carolina met to discuss the best way to bring students back in the fall.

They met virtually on Thursday to brainstorm ideas for a safe and productive transition.

In a two hour meeting, teachers and administrators from school districts all over South Carolina bounced ideas around. Discussions ranged from summer school to social distancing in classrooms come August.

Several teachers and administrators spoke out about poor Internet access in their communities, which led to students missing out on interactions with teachers.

Some feared students in kindergarten through third grade would fall behind so much that they could never recover.

Others brought up the challenges of convincing parents schools would be safe to send their students.

The state superintendent says the Coronavirus Relief Bill will give the state $216 million to use for education. About 90 percent of that will go to the districts to spend how they see fit.

Two local districts, York District One and Chesterfield County, had representatives at the meeting.

The two administrators made sure their community’s needs are being addressed since those needs are different from most districts.

Dr. Latoya Dixon, York District One’s Director of Elementary Programs and Gifted Education says her district is a good indicator of what the state looks like.

York District One is high poverty and rural area so she is worried about summer slide affecting students without technology.

When coming into the new school year, Dixon says the students need to make up learning and not time.

”There’s some confusion about quality and quantity so doing more is not necessarily beneficial unless it’s doing the right thing. So it’s more about what we’re doing than how much we’re doing," Dixon said.

Down the road in Chesterfield County, Superintendent Harrison Goodwin is worried about the same summer slide that already affects his students over a two-month period.

He recognizes the students have been gone for almost double that time.

“The challenges that my students are facing are very different than they are for upper or upper middle-level school districts," Goodwin said.

Chesterfield County School District is similar to York District One--a rural area with high poverty hit hard by the virus.

Chesterfield is extending its summer program to two months instead of one to make up for the loss of learning.

With that taken care of for his district, Goodwin wants to see the task force come up with a solid re-entering plan for August.

”We need to have things in place so that we can get back to normal as quickly as we can," Goodwin said.

Both Goodwin and Dixon agreed the task force has a full plate, but they are both confident students will be safe and caught up returning to school.

”If you know anything about teachers we don’t give up," Dixon said. "We press forward we push through.”

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