By DEUCE NIVEN
Students at Williams Township School will all be in virtual classrooms beginning Friday, less than a week after South Columbus High School, just south on US 701, began the same practice, the Columbus County Schools announced Thursday.
Distance learning will be in effect at least through Sept. 10 at Williams Township. Students at South Columbus will return to campus Tuesday, after the Labor Day holiday.
Students returning to South Columbus will see “tightened safety measures including increased social distancing, limited congregation of students, and limited movement,” a school district news release said.
Staff that is able, at both schools, will remain in their classrooms providing instruction to their students remotely on Friday, and through at least the end of next week at WTS.
A total of 15 students or staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at Williams Township School between Aug. 27 and Sept. 1, data provided by the district Thursday morning said. As a result five students or staff members were placed under quarantine.
“Closing school facilities for ten days in an attempt to reduce the chances of COVID spread is a serious step that is only taken after much consideration of the health, safety and well-being of our students and the community,” the news release said. “Columbus County Schools urges everyone in our area to limit gatherings over the Labor Day holiday. The current sharp rise in infections is attributed to community spread of the COVID virus.
“When our communities participate in gatherings without masks or social distancing, schools will continue to close, which in turn will cause harm to our students’ emotional well-being and their educational progress.”
An additional 9 students or staff at South Columbus have tested positive for the coronavirus from Aug. 27 through Sept. 1. That’s down sharply from 36 COVID positive tests and 35 quarantined students and/or staff at SCHS for the week of Aug. 23.
Positive cases for the same time period at the rest of the county schools have been lower, including six at Evergreen Elementary, five each at Chadbourn Elementary and West Columbus High, four at Acme Delco Elementary, three at Cerro Gordo Elementary, two at East Columbus High, and one each at Tabor City Middle, Nakina Middle, Old Dock Elementary, and Columbus Career and College Academy.
No new cases were reported Tabor City Elementary or the Columbus County Schools’ Central Offices.
In the news release, the school district asked for community support to combat COVID-19.
“Please help our schools by asking that everyone in your family, church and community take precautions to prevent spread of the virus,” the news release said.
Two more middle schools in Horry County are moving to distance learning beginning Friday, Horry County Schools announced Thursday.
Whittemore Park and Ten Oaks middle schools are the fourth and fifth Horry Schools pushed to remote learning due to of COVID-19 cases and quarantines.
Loris Middle School began distance learning today (Thursday), Conway High made the shift Wednesday, with remote learning at Aynor Middle starting Monday.
School impacts are mirroring troubling trends in the pandemic in both Columbus and Horry counties.
Another 237 confirmed COVID-19 infections and seven new deaths for Horry County between Wednesday and Thursday; 81 additional cases and two more deaths in Columbus; were shown on coronavirus dashboards maintained by their respective state agencies,
Updates will be posted here as events warrant. Look for complete stories in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.