By Ruben Lowman
All schools throughout the district will continue with the hybrid learning plan for students until at least the end of next week, through Friday, Oct. 16, according to the latest updates from the state’s top health officials and their coronavirus reports.
Previously, DHEC had released its updated weekly disease activity report on Monday, with HCS following suit with their learning plan for the following two weeks. Last week DHEC announced it would alter the release of their reports to Thursday, in order to provide school districts with the most up-to-date information on the amount of COVID-19 spread in their area.
So far, the prevalence of coronavirus in Horry County has remained at a “medium level spread” during the course of this schoolyear, meaning “limited face-to-face instruction” for the time being.
At the moment, students who are enrolled to attend in-person classes receive two days of education in their classrooms with their teachers, and use online learning for the remainder of the week and to complete the rest of their work. The level of COVID-19 spread in the county not been low enough to reach the threshold required to move into five days a week of in-class instruction for all students.
HCS Chairman Ken Richardson has repeatedly stressed that the safety and health of all students, teachers, faculty and their loved ones is the most important determination before transitioning back into a five-day in-class schoolweek for all students.
Ocean Drive Elementary School Principal Renee Fowler expressed a similar sentiment, saying, “I love this school. And my teachers love it. My main thing is building that rapport with parents, that they know their children are safe here, that their children are okay here.”
Fowler pointed out that the determination and resilience of the children has been one aspect that has mostly gone unnoticed since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit.
“Our kids we don’t give them credit for being resilient,” Fowler said. “Our kids that come back in here they are so glad to see their friends, they are not having the problem with the social distancing they are wearing the mask their friends are wearing a mask so they are wearing a mask. It’s no big deal for them. They see our little stickers on the floor that we have out in so they know to stay six feet apart.”
The district also announced that it has created an online “dashboard” that displays exactly how many cases of coronavirus have been confirmed among the staff and students at each school within Horry County. The online dashboard provides families and loved ones of students and faculty with up-to-date, active information that is intended to help protect them and keep them safe. It displays the total amount of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases for all schools in the district, along with the total positive and current cases for each specific school.
“The health and well-being of our students and employees are top priorities for Horry County Schools,” the district said in a statement. “As one means for having a better understanding of the health of our learning environments, the district is closely monitoring COVID-19 positive test results which HCS nurses have confirmed with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.”
At press time, 27 students throughout HCS have been confirmed to have COVID-19, with 12 faculty members also testing positive, bringing the total to 39 individuals in the entire school system in the area.