COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) The South Carolina School Board Association revealed results from a survey they conducted with school board members to understand how everyone feels districts should proceed with safely resuming education in the state.
According to the SCSBA, 52.4% of the state’s 591 board members responded to the survey, with all 46 South Carolina counties having participated. The survey was conducted from May 5 to May 14.
Ultimately, members agreed that they’d prefer a range of options for how to safely reopen, not universal mandates. This would allow each individual school district to implement tailored protocols that will allow them to meet the needs of their students and communities specifically.
First and foremost, 53% of members agreed that their top priority when considering opening school for the 2020-2021 academic year is health, disinfectant and hygiene measures.
“I have spoken to many, many school board members during these past few months, and I can say without hesitation that all of them are focused on the health and safety of their students, staff and their families,” said SCSBA President and Greenville County School Board Member Chuck Saylors
Other big priorities include addressing class size to allow for recommended physical distancing, maintaining physical distance on school buses, and how children can make up for lost instruction.
As far as flexibility goes, two-thirds of members supported a partial or split scheduling as a good option should social distancing protocols remain. For example, some students would come into school Monday, Wednesday and Friday while others come in on Tuesday and Thursday. They’d alternate weekly, and online instruction would be held on the days they aren’t physically in the building.
Not many members were keen on the idea of starting the school year in July so students can review instruction provided during the closure. Rather, they believe teachers need as much time as possible to prepare.
Over the last few months of online instruction, many school districts believe that families are somewhat satisfied with the quality of distance learning. However, 68% of members stand firm in their belief that there is no substitute for in-person learning.
The survey revealed that the majority of school board members support students beginning the new school year at their next level of instruction. Though, 66% of them say it could be up to the child’s parents to choose whether their student should repeat their current school-level grade.
About 89% of those surveyed think the state should seek a waiver to suspend student standardized testing for the new school year so as to provide extra time for educators to focus on student learning.
The survey shows that board members are split on the decision to let parents choose if they want their child sent back to school, or if they’d prefer to continue online instruction.
Some members noted that option would put an additional burden on classroom teachers – who would have to create online instruction materials for those at home, while continuing to educate the children physically in front of them.
“As school boards and educators must work at the massive task of managing education and continuing learning in a period of unprecedented disruption, we should remember what has always been true: every school is different, and every district is different,” Saylors said.
Stay with FOX Carolina for updates as SCSBA and the South Carolina Department of Education continue to work toward putting a plan in place for the upcoming school year.
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