By DEUCE NIVEN
Full-time distance learning for students in the Columbus County Schools, in place since they returned from the Christmas break, ends for many at the end of this week.
A hybrid learning model, with the students in PreK through fifth grade in on-campus classes full time, older grades split between on-campus and virtual learning on different days of the week, resumes Feb. 1, Supt. Deanne Meadows said in a statement posted on social media.
Students previously approved for full-time virtual learning may remain in that environment.
“We appreciate your patience and understanding as we have worked through the sudden spike in cases resulting from the Christmas holidays,” Meadows said. “It is important for everyone to know that we have had ZERO instances of COVID being spread in our schools. Every positive case we have had to this point has been the result of exposure at home or in the community.
“The data shows our schools are safe for students and staff. We will remain diligent with our sanitation practices and our social distancing, but we MUST have the cooperation of our communities. If anyone in the home has symptoms, positive results for COVID or waiting on test results, please do not send children to school until a health professional indicates they are clear to be at school.
“If you or your child goes out of the home, either to the store, or visiting friends or family, or church, please wear your mask, wash your hands, and social distance.
Current plans are not to revert to full-time virtual learning system wide, though it could happen at individual schools “when the situation warrants, either because of a cluster of five or more cases or because of lack of staff to operate,” Meadows said. “We plan to keep unaffected schools open.”
In the most recent COVID-19 infection report from the county schools, issued Thursday, four staff members were shown as newly testing positive for the coronavirus, no students. Those staff members at South Columbus High, Cerro Gordo and Chadbourn elementary schools, and at the Central Office, did not force any quarantines at those facilities, school district spokesman Kelly Jones said.
“This has been a difficult year, and we fully understand the fear and the anger that many are experiencing,” Meadows said. “We know when schools are closed it is more difficult for students to learn, teachers to teach, and parents to work.
“If we come together and insist on safety from all adults and all children in our area, we can keep our schools open permanently.”