S.C. superintendent approves Clover school reopening plan

Clover back to school plan approved

CLOVER, S.C. (WBTV) - As others school districts wait for the state’s approval of their reopening plans, Clover School District is moving on to the next steps of their approved plan.

South Carolina’s superintendent of education has approved Clover School District’s reopening plan, along with five other districts across the state. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced the approval of six school district reopening plans submitted to the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE).

Liz Root, a teacher at Clover’s Crowders Creek Elementary School, spends her day putting socially-distanced touches on her first grade classroom. One less worry runs through her mind after hearing of the approval.

“Very exciting and relieved our plan has been approved so we can move forward,” says Root.

According to the Rock Hill Herald, Clover School District’s final reopening plan has three modes of instruction.

  • “Hybrid Model,” which is what will be in place at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, puts the district’s middle school and high school students on an “A/B/SEE” schedule: Half the students receive in-person instruction on Monday and Wednesday; half do so on Tuesday and Thursday; and select students will use time on Friday to get extra help classes and participate in small group learning. Elementary school students will receive in-person instruction five days a week under this model, but they’ll participate in school activities throughout the year with their “classroom family” only.
  • The district’s least-restrictive plan, the “Traditional Model,” allows all students in all grades to attend school every day, requiring students to follow health and safety protocols - including sanitizing classrooms and limiting large group gatherings in common indoor areas. Mask wearing is optional but recommended.
  • Most-restrictive plan, the “eLearning Model,” where all classes are virtual.

The school district is offering elementary parents five-day, face-to-face instruction through their phased-in “Family Model” that includes enhanced safety protocols and keeping students together in cohorts to mitigate the spread of disease.

As an elementary school teacher, Root approves of the five days of in-person learning.

“Like any opening of the school year it’s a time to reconnect, learn who their teacher is, build those super important relationships,” she explains. “With that five days to do it even in smaller groups makes it even better.”

Although Spearman gave the district a nod for using the family model, Clover School District Superintendent Shelia Quinn does not think grouping kindergarten through fifth graders into families is what cracked the approval code.

”I felt very good about our plan and I thought the state would approve it but it was nice to have the validation that she felt like it was a very strong plan and Superintendent Spearman wanted it to be one of the first models,” says Quinn.

The school district’s first day of school is Aug. 24. Winter break will be Dec. 21-Jan. 4. Spring break will last from April 2-April 9. The last day for high school students will be June 9, and the last day for the rest of the district’s students will be June 16.

The district’s next steps involve training. The training will help teachers get used to the new model and the A/B scheduling for middle and high school students. It is a way for administrators to make sure the new year goes as smooth as possible.

“The plans approved today offer parents high quality, innovative face to face and virtual options while keeping student and staff safety as their top priority,” said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. “I commend these school communities for considering the latest scientific data and guidance along with the academic, social and emotional needs of students to make localized decisions. Our goal is for every school to return to five day face to face instruction as quickly as safety conditions allow. South Carolinians can support their neighborhood school by wearing a face mask, practicing social distancing, washing their hands regularly, and staying at home when sick. These precautions have the potential to significantly expedite our education system’s return to normalcy.”

In order to be approved school districts must meet key criteria set by the SCDE.

These criteria include – offering both a virtual and face to face option, a time frame to review operational plans to move towards full five day face-to-face instruction model, and the establishment of how high quality instruction and a broad range of student services will be provided.

Unlike the emergency remote learning that was required during COVID-19 school closures, students participating in virtual options will have a daily instructional schedule, receive frequent teacher feedback, and face high standards for earning passing grades.

The large number of South Carolina families choosing a 100 percent virtual option has enabled districts to safely offer face to face instruction with added precautions despite the high spread of COVID-19 in many communities.

To date, the SCDE has received 73 reopening plans and is awaiting plans from eight districts who were granted extensions.

Detailed information regarding approved plans can be found by following this link.

Superintendent Spearman is also instituting a statewide face mask requirement for all school bus riders, including students, drivers, and staff.

The SCDE and DHEC continue to expect and strongly encourage all students and staff to wear face masks within the school building.

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