Florence School District 3 approves new school reopening plan after state rejects previous plan


"I want to go on record as saying if anybody dies in this school district, it is on Molly Spearman and Henry McMaster"

LAKE CITY, SC (WBTW) – Florence School District 3 approved a new school reopening plan on Thursday night, after revealing that the state rejected its previous plan earlier Thursday.

The State Department of Education is requiring the district to offer a virtual option and an in-person option for all students. The in-person option was not part of the district’s previous plan.

At one point during the meeting that was broadcast on Facebook Live, Vice-Chairperson Dr. Julia G. Mims- also a member of the healthcare community, appeared to become emotional when she expressed her concern for bringing any students and staff members back to the classroom during the coronavirus pandemic.

When I was elected to the school board, what’s always been number one for me is what’s best for children,” Mims said. “I work in healthcare. I see people dying and sick from this every day. I will still stand by my decision. I do not think the children should be back in schools yet. I don’t want the teachers exposed….but I guess, if we don’t have a choice, then we’ll have to go with this face-to-face plan…But I want to go on record as saying if anybody dies in this school district, it is on Molly Spearman and Henry McMaster- the way they have demanded that we do this and not have the authority to decide what we should do in our school district. And if that’s going to be the way it’s going to be in the future, then maybe we don’t need all these school boards. We’ll just have the State Department of Education make all the decisions.”

Under the new calendar, the first day for all students would be September 8, either virtually or in-person. Staggered entry for students choosing face-to-face instruction would occur from Sept. 8-17. Elementary schools would operate Monday through Friday. Middle and high schools would operate on an A/B hybrid plan with virtual for all on Fridays.

Teachers would return to the classroom on August 17 under this plan. Professional development would run from August 17 to August 21.

LEAP (Learn, Evaluate, Analyze, and Prepare) days and academic recovery camp would run from August 31 to September 4.

For full plan details, click here. For the powerpoint presentation with highlights of the school calendar, click here.

Board members said this will be an ongoing, monthly evaluation based on the conditions and data received from the CDC and DHEC.

The plan must be approved by the State Department of Education.

Superintendent Laura Hickson has scheduled a virtual town hall meeting for Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. to provide additional information to stakeholders. Details about the meeting will be posted on the district’s website and Facebook page.

On Thursday, the state approved Darlington County School District’s reopening plan.

Count on News13 for updates.

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