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Orangeburg County School District students won’t return Monday; new in-person learning date being considered
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Orangeburg County School District

Orangeburg County School District students won’t return Monday; new in-person learning date being considered

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Orangeburg County School District students will not return to face-to-face instruction as planned on Monday.

The district plans to discuss the matter with the S.C. Department of Education on Thursday, Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster said following a Tuesday school board meeting.

The OCSD board will most likely announce a date for a return to in-person instruction during a special called meeting this Friday. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. and can be viewed on the district's YouTube page.

The district has seen a total of six students impacted by coronavirus through Sept. 21. One student is in isolation, four recovered and one is in quarantine.

A total of 104 faculty and staff have been impacted -- three are currently in isolation, 33 have recovered, 11 are in quarantine and 57 cases have been resolved.

Isolation involves separating individuals who are sick with the virus from people who are not sick, while quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to the virus to see if they become sick.

During Tuesday's school board meeting, Foster discussed the results of a parental and teacher survey.

The district said 476 parents who have not already enrolled their children in virtual classes for the semester took the survey. The survey revealed that 84% of parents were comfortable with returning to a face-to-face or hybrid learning model, while 16% said they do not feel comfortable with such a model.

The survey of 290 teachers revealed that 18% of those who responded were comfortable returning to an in-classroom setting on Sept. 28, while 51% were not comfortable.

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About 30% of the teachers said they may be comfortable if additional procedures are put in place to keep them safe.

"We truly want to hear back from our community because it helps us make the best decisions moving forward," Foster said. "It helps us get a pulse on how this pandemic and the decisions we made affect our parents."

Foster asked for individuals to be patient through the process.

"I know people need to plan," he said. "This is a circumstance where we have to learn, unlearn and relearn and it may happen at a short notice."

It is the second time the school district has delayed the in-person instruction return date.

Initially, the district had planned to offer an in-person instruction option on Sept. 14 before pushing the date back to Sept. 28.

School officials say they’re considering the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control's assessment of county coronavirus data in determining when students should return to school.

The district is also monitoring COVID hospitalizations, infections and inpatient space capacity.

The district has 6,051 students who have registered for Orangeburg Online through the end of the fall semester. The number is over half of the students in the district.

Orangeburg Online is the district's virtual instruction platform.

About 36 students are on the waiting list for the Orangeburg Online platform, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Andress Carter-Simes said.

About 72 parents have unenrolled their students from the platform.

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