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Practicing social distancing, faculty and staff line up for their class photo at North Myrtle Beach Middle School on Thursday. The DHEC Disease Activity Report for Monday will determine how Horry County Schools students attend school beginning Sept. 8. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Students will begin the first day of school on Sept. 8 with the hybrid instructional model, according to Horry County Schools.

"We are excited to welcome our students back both to our school buildings and our virtual schoolrooms," said Superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey in a call to parents on Monday. "Enjoy the last few days of your summer break and know we look forward to beginning the new school year with you..."

The hybrid schedule indicates that students will attend two days in-person, and three days distance learning. 

Maxey also said that student schedules will be available on Sept. 2 no later than 5 p.m., and students will also discover with which split schedule group they will attend. Having students attend on different days of the week will help reduce the number of students in the classrooms at once.

HCS said last month that a programmer well-versed in the Powerschool student data system was able to split the school’s population in a way that put siblings attending school on the same day, to make scheduling a bit easier for families.

The long-awaited decision stems from today’s S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Disease Activity Report, which looks at a number of data details, including the two-week cumulative incidence rate, the percentage of positive test results in the county, and whether that data is trending up or down.

The two-week incidence rate is 120 per 100,000 people, which is in the medium range of 51-200 people, and the percent positive is still in the high range at 15% positive. The rate will need to be below 10% to be closer to five-day, in-person learning. 

Each Monday, HCS will examine the DHEC’s updated reports, which analyze the prior two weeks of data, to determine how the following week of school will look.

Most schools began giving out student devices last week and continue to do so throughout this week, in preparation for next Tuesday’s first day of school since March 13.

On Thursday and Friday, schools opened up to their professional staff for the first time to begin readying for however students would be attending.

At North Myrtle Beach Middle School, signs are already on the walls to remind students to wash their hands, and arrows on the floor help them remember to continue to social distance and stay at least six feet apart from other students.

NMBMS teacher Sharon Mahon, who taught during the district’s LEAP (Learn, Analyze, Prepare, and Evaluate) days, said the kids just want to be back in school, and those in attendance for LEAP days followed the rules wonderfully.

“Administration has done everything they can to make us feel safe,” Mahon said, adding that what teachers need now is grace. “We’re doing the best that we can, and they [administration] have given us everything we need.”

Some elementary schools will be holding virtual open houses for children to meet their teachers, and a number of high schools have planned virtual orientations for their new freshman classes.

Be sure to check your school's social media pages for more information about orientations and virtual open house events. 

HCS reported earlier this month that more than 13,000 students in the district opted for school via HCS Virtual.

Check back with My Horry News for updates.

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