Horry County Schools finishes installing plexiglass in first school to prevent COVID-19 spread

Making The Grade

AYNOR, S.C. (WBTW) – Classrooms for Horry County Schools (HCS) are getting plexiglass around their desks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Aynor Elementary School (AES) is the first location HCS has finished putting plexiglass up around desks. It costs $5.2 million to do this at every school and it’s funded by the state and CARES Act.

When Ashley Poston’s first grade students returned to class after Thanksgiving on Monday, their desks looked very different and were surrounded by tall plexiglass barriers.

“When I first walked in, it was different, but of course I’m excited that our children are going to be as safe as they can be,” said Poston. “A little bit of glass is not going to separate me from my students.”

HCS says the plexiglass will help safely resume in-person classes five days a week. Youngest students would likely be the first to return.

Like other elementary schools, AES students stay in the same classroom during the school day.

“Students have their own personal space and at the end of the day, that’s when the custodial staff comes in each classroom and sanitizes,” said AES principal Reggie Gasque.

It took about two weeks to install all the barriers at AES.

“Some of them even call it their own office or their own cubicle, but we have had no issues with children adjusting whatsoever,” said Gasque.

Students still have to wear masks in class. The state Department of Health and Enviromental Control (DHEC) advises they sit three feet apart.

Poston also says having the desks arranged in clusters of four with plexiglass helps the students learn more. Since they sit closer to each other, they’re able to work together more efficently than when they are spread further apart.

Her class, like all of HCS, is in the hybrid school model, which means students go to school twice a week and the classroom is only half full.

“It’s really funny how resilient children are, but they have been fine,” Poston said. “They wear their masks. They’ve adapted well and they love being here.”

Poston says she feels the glass can protect her students more.

“I felt safe before, but I feel safe now too,” she said. “I feel safer for them. They feel more safe because they get to be back in their little groups with their friends and not have to be as spread out.”

HCS says Green Sea, Loris and South Conway elementary schools will be the next to complete their plexiglass installation. The district’s current goal is to finish all elementary schools by Dec. 23. All work is done after school or on weekends.

HCS is expected to give a full update on the plexiglass installation process at Monday night’s school board meeting.

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