‘This is all an experiment for all of us’: Dillon School District 4 prepares for students to return to class

Making The Grade

DILLON COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Dillon School District 4 is making final preparations for students to return to class amid the coronavirus pandemic.

LEAP Days will take place Aug. 31 through Sept. 4, with the first day of school happening on Sept. 8.

Students and parents in Dillon 4 have two options for the return to class: virtual or face-to-face instruction. Students choosing face-to-face instruction will attend school two days a week (Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday) and have classes virtually on Fridays.

District Superintendent Douglas Ray Rogers tells News13 approximately 60% of students have chosen to return to class virtually, while approximately 40% will take advantage of the face-to-face plan.

Rogers says the district is continuing to identify staff members who will teach virtually and those that will teach in the face-to-face setting when classes resume.

“Listen, this is all an experiment for all of us,” Rogers explained. “None of us have ever been here. This is something we’re jumping on and seeing if we can work out all of the bugs as soon as we can because we’ve already missed nine weeks of last school year.”

News13 asked whether coronavirus case data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control could put face-to-face instruction on hold. As of Aug. 17, Dillon County is considered to have a high incidence rate.

Rogers replied “No.”

“We’ll move forward with the same plans we have in place at this time. The virtual and the hybrid,” he said.

Each student in Dillon 4 will receive a digital device for learning in the 2020-2021 school year. Rogers says the district purchased around 4,000 devices — partially with CARES Act funding it received from the government and Title 1 funding.

Parents will receive guidance from their child’s school on pick-up plans for those devices.

Students who physically return to class will be required to wear a mask in the new school year, in addition to staff members, Rogers said. Schools will get disinfected daily and the district plans to limit student movement throughout the day inside district buildings. That includes breakfast in classrooms and careful movements in clusters between classes and lunch.

The district plans to track student activity through submitted assignments in the new school year. Rogers says all students within Dillon 4 are accounted for, and should some become unaccounted for throughout the new year, identified staff members will work to find those students and check on their well-being.

As the new year inches closer for Dillon 4 students, staff and parents, Rogers has a piece of advice for anyone still anxious about what’s ahead.

“Be patient. We’ve got the best plans in the world, but we may have to monitor and adjust all of them because you don’t know what’s going to come up and we don’t want to leave any child behind,” he said.

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