District 55 changes course after DHEC report, District 56 remains in-person

Laurens County, South Carolina – Just hours ahead of what was going to be the first week of hybrid eLearning and classroom learning in Laurens School District 55, the district has changed course and will revert to a total eLearning situation, at least for now.

The district made the announcement and contacted parents and teachers on Monday afternoon during the Labor Day holiday.

Meanwhile, Clinton schools in Laurens County District 56 plan to remain in the district’s planned face-to-face system.

According to a District 55 press release, the decision on Monday, Sep. 7, is based on a report issued today by DHEC which increased Laurens County’s COVID-19 rating from “Moderate” to “High.”  The district had based its plans for a “yellow” hybrid schedule on the moderate rating.

LCSD 55 Superintendent Dr. Ameca Thomas sent out a call alert to parents at approximately 2:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon announcing a change from the “Yellow” hybrid phase schedule to the “Red” all eLearning schedule. Based on the DHEC reports for the prior two weeks, District 55 had planned to follow last week’s LEAP week with a hybrid schedule of class days and e-learning, beginning in school on Tuesday, Sep. 8.

“We are certainly disappointed that we will not be able to bring our students into the school buildings as originally planned,” Thomas said. “Our greatest concern, of course, is for the health and safety of students, staff, and the broader community. This report from DHEC indicates that we have not yet turned the corner with this pandemic. We are, however, well prepared for this shift and we are excited to begin the new school year on September 8th.”

LCSD 55 has been using the DHEC reports each week to determine the proper phase of operations for students and staff. A “High” rating triggers the “Red” phase, which is all eLearning. 

Clinton schools in Laurens County District 56 plan to remain in the planned face-to-face system and will moderate as needed, according to District 56 Superintendent David O’Shields.

“We will carefully monitor and adjust if necessary,” O’Shields said Monday afternoon

The ability for Clinton schools to continue on its five-day-a-week plan is based on the current smaller numbers of students, said Director of Public Relations Cindy Jacobs.

“We are going with out plan face to face,” Jacobs said. “ We can social distance because of all the students that signed up for virtual.”

About one fourth of students in both District 55 and District 56 signed up for the Laurens County Virtual Academy when the option was provided late during the summer.

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