Rock Hill, Chesterfield County schools bring some students back in person

Some S.C. elementary students return to the classroom

ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Two of our South Carolina school districts will bring some students back to the classroom. The elementary students will go back for five days, something that has not happened since March of this year.

Chesterfield County and Rock Hill Schools will bring either some or all the elementary students back to a normal schedule. Both districts announced the move a few weeks ago.

Chesterfield County Schools brought its kindergarten through fifth-graders back Monday. Those students were supposed to start on November 2 but a delayed plexiglass shipment pushed it back a week.

Rock Hill Schools is only bringing its kindergarten through second graders back for five days, but the district has plans to bring the rest of the elementary students and the middle school students back by the end of November.

Both districts are taking safety precautions.

Desks will be three feet apart, students will wear masks and plexiglass will be in between each desk.

While the state health department says this set up keeps students from close contact, a Rock Hill Schools teacher says she feels it’s dangerous.

“It’s just really discouraging because it’s this overall take care of yourself we care about you you’re doing a great job and it’s just like no you don’t care," says a teacher who wanted to speak anonymously.

It might only be kindergarten through second grade joining the classroom full-time but data shows disease activity in York County is high.

“No you don’t care," the teacher says.

It is a feeling this Rock Hill Schools teacher has felt since the summer when the district discussed bringing students back to school.

“Safety and security," the teacher says. "They’ve been teaching that for years and it’s all lost its value because no you’re not that worried about our physical safety if you’re doing this.”

The teacher is feeling the “not worried about safety” feeling again since the district made the announcement. The move comes as Covid-19 cases in the Palmetto state rise again and DHEC warns of a fall surge.

“That positivity with teachers. Stick it out you’re ok. That’s gonna hurt a lot of teachers it already has across the state," says the teacher.

“Without our staff, we can’t do what we’re supposed to do so their safety and concern is paramount," says Rock Hill Schools Superintendent Dr. Bill Cook.

Cook says he used multiple factors to make his reopening decision. It included making sure kids got the learning they needed after being away and on an odd schedule since March. He responded to teachers' concerns that the district is moving too fast.

“I think we’ve been slow to be successful and be safe and we’re gonna continue down that path," says Cook.

Cook added he has open communication with teachers to voice their concerns. Though he differs on the speed of reopening, he says safeguards are in place if needed.

“It may mean that we have to close a classroom or that we may have to close a school and we’re not used to doing that but we have to be willing to do that," he says.

The first day of the normal schedule starts tomorrow. If this is successful to Dr. Cook, he says third through fifth will join by the end of the month.

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