FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Fort Mill Schools will transition to virtual learning for those students who have in-person instruction for the final two days before the holiday break.
The district said it will be completely virtual for Thursday and Friday, due to positive COVID cases reported in the district.
Tevis Vandergriff’s 10th grader and 7th grader should have been in school Thursday, but COVID-19 shut their entire district down.
”I was not surprised,” says Vandergriff. “But of course a part of me was saying man it’s the last two days of school.”
For Vandergriff’s daughter, this was no big deal. She did well in sixth grade when the district moved to forced virtual learning. That was when the pandemic was just ramping up. However, his son felt some pressure then and when he heard of the switch.
”A kid that was just about all As prior to us going home last year to someone who struggled to get back to Cs and Bs,” says he says.
Despite the in-person disruption, Vandergriff says his kids are doing well. He says face-to-face interaction did not suffer just because they are virtual. He watched as his students meet with their fellow students and teachers on a web camera platform.
”They came down for lunch and they said I only have 20 minutes or 30 minutes before I have to go back online,” he says. “They’re like this is far better than the last time.”
Joe Burke, the Fort Mill Schools spokesperson, pointed to the district’s plan to explain why this time may be going smoother than last time. Since the district made the decision during school Wednesday, teachers were able to get students their technology. As well, the district communicated with principals to be ready to enact the plan.
“We had those plans in place and we were trying to prepare as much as possible if and when we did have to do something like we did yesterday,” says Burke.
Burke says Fort Mill Schools will evaluate if students can come back to school after break.
”Help us during this holiday break to keep down community spread and the number of close contacts we’ve had, the quicker and easier it will be to get back to school,” says Burke.
For Vandergriff, he says the students need to go back to school. He says teachers are the best mentors, helpers and educators for the kids. Vandergriff says teachers are underappreciated and undervalued. He thinks they are the hero everyone, especially students, should look up to.
”It’s my Christmas wish. That we can all get back to having our kids in school so they can get back to learning,” says Vandergriff.
As of Tuesday, 84 Fort Mill Schools students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and just under 500 are quarantining. Burke says these numbers grew more by Wednesday, leading to the closure.
“As positive cases have been reported to the district during the week, patterns have indicated the possibility of community spread in several schools in the district,” the school district said in a statement. “This decision was made with the safety of our students, staff and community in mind.”