Gov. Henry McMaster and Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman held a press conference April 22 to announce that schools will remain online through the end of the semester.
Gov. Henry McMaster announced Wednesday that K-12 schools will remain online through the end of the school year because of ongoing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The last day for most South Carolina school districts is June 2.
At a news conference with state schools, Superintendent Molly Spearman and McMaster acknowledged this is a difficult time for South Carolina families, many of whom have lost work during the coronavirus pandemic and must also now continue to assist their children with school work at home.
“Schools are the backbone of the community,” Spearman said. “When they’re closed, all of us hurt.”
Students without access to internet service and other technology face a greater challenge in completing schoolwork, and Spearman encouraged teachers and students to work together to adapt to these issues.
McMaster said school districts will be allowed to hold summer programs and special needs classes for students but advised them to follow social distancing guidelines.
He also discussed graduation plans and acknowledged that this time is important to families and students, and he said they are seeking creative ways to hold graduation ceremonies.
“We’ve heard of a lot of imaginative, innovative plans,” McMaster said. “We will find ways that [graduation] will be accomplished.”
Spearman said schools have been doing a really good job with delivering meals and technology to students in need. She said 5 million meals have been prepared and delivered across the state to students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Spearman estimated that 30 out of 70 school districts in the state have to rely on pencil and paper to complete the semester. Other districts are using all technology or a mix of the two methods.
“The digital divide in South Carolina has become very apparent,” Spearman said. “In portions of the Midlands there are still areas that families do not have access to the internet.”
Moving forward, McMaster and Spearman both said a task force of people involved in the school district and healthcare leaders is working to find solutions for next school year by August. Spearman said it would be hard for students to follow social distancing guidelines in small classrooms and school buses.
“It’s been sad to see schools close,” Spearman said. “But it has been a joy to see how everyone pulled together and worked together on this for the good of our children.”
For the latest updates on school closures, visit the South Carolina Department of Education website at www.ed.sc.gov.