A look inside an Horry County School: What changes were made to keep students and teachers safer

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The principal of Waccamaw Elementary, Leslie Huggins, gave News13 a tour of the school Friday to explain changes made in Horry County Schools to keep students safer when they return to the classroom.

Students will not eat lunch in the Cafeteria this year. Meals will be delivered to elementary students in their classroom. While middle school students will have a grab-and-go style lunch, meaning they will go through the cafeteria line and bring their meal back to the classroom.

Waccamaw Elementary’s cafeteria is set up to help with dismissal, though.

“The paws [social distance markers] are strategically placed six feet,” Huggins said. “So we can bring some of our car riders into the cafeteria.”

In the hallways, water fountains are covered with caution tape. At Waccamaw Elementary, there are also paw prints on the floor of all hallways to promote social distancing.

“If we have classes that happen to meet, the kids would be going one way or the other,” Huggins explained. “We’ve really worked logistically to keep classes from meeting in the hall, but in the event that they do, we went ahead and made two lanes of traffic.”

Inside the classrooms at Waccamaw Elementary, many teachers still have desks set up in pairs. Huggins says this serves a few purposes: making the switch from digital to potential in-person learning easier, keeping the desks in classrooms because there isn’t enough storage space at the school, and providing kids a sense of normalcy even though a classmate won’t be sitting next to them.

“Teachers just worked really hard to eliminate anything that was extra,” she said. “Teachers are thinking about, what are the routes that kids will move as they will move around the room and limiting the amount of times kids do that.”

Higgins anticipates classes will have 10-14 students at a time, depending on the hybrid schedule. Some teachers last year had up to 28 students in their classroom at a time.

A mother of three herself, Higgins admitted, she was worried about recess and making sure the students had time outside. Even though Waccamaw Elementary students won’t be allowed on the playground, she says students will get time outside during their recess period. 

In the front office, plexiglass was installed at the receptionist desk and only one visitor will be allowed in the building at a time.

School in Horry County is set to begin on September 8th. DHEC’s disease activity report on Monday will determine how students in the County return to the classroom.

If disease activity remains “medium”, classes on September 8th will be allowed to start in a hybrid model. For Horry County students that means, one group will attend school in-person on Monday/Tuesday and the other group will attend on Wednesday/Thursday, while everyone stays home Friday.

Count on News13 to follow this story.

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