Horry County Schools board votes to stay with hybrid instruction until further notice

Grand Strand

CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — The board for Horry County Schools (HCS) voted 11-1 Monday to stay with the hybrid instruction model until every school can have in-person classes five days a week, despite concerns from teachers.

Kathleen Cogland, who’s a teacher at Myrtle Beach Elementary School, said she wishes HCS was more clear about how school will be held.

“It’s frustrating for myself as a teacher and as a parent,” Cogland said. “Although hybrid is beneficial for me and this week is working out for me, it’s not the right call based on what was submitted to the state [education] department.”

About a dozen teachers protested outside before Monday night’s school board meeting.

“Our teachers want to be able to trust you,” Carolina Forest Elementary School teacher Cori Canada said. “Simply put, we need to be able to trust that you have our safety and our safety of our students at the forefront of your decisions.”

HCS will also give parents at least five days notice before changing the instructional model, except in case of an emergency. The district will use its COVID-19 dashboard when deciding how classes are held at each school.

The dashboard will be used in addition to the DHEC disease activity report.

“I think that it’s time that we look at where we are with new information to start thinking about looking at things differently,” said superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) disease activity report on Thursday classifies Horry County as high COVID-19 spread. According to AccelerateED task force guidelines, recommends virtual classes only.

Some parents told the district they’re concerned HCS is undercounting COVID-19 cases and marking them as the flu, which the district said is not true.

“Because we don’t have a COVID-19 code, you will never look at a child’s attendance and see ‘SC-COVID,'” said Velna Allen, who’s the chief student services officer for HCS. “I promise you won’t. They have instructed us to use the code ‘SC-FLU.'”

A special note is then made in an attendance report if a child is positive for COVID-19.

“These aren’t Horry County Schools numbers,” said Dr. Maxey. “These test results that come up are positive test results that were verified by SC DHEC.”

Dr. Maxey said he will send the reopening plan updates to the State Department of Education for approval.

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