Jasper County Schools stand behind “online-only” policy

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JASPER COUNTY, SC (WSAV) – Jasper County had already made its decision about the upcoming school year even before the Governor made his statement Wednesday.

Online learning only is the best way for Jasper County Schools to educate students this Fall.

That’s the basic idea behind the Superintendent’s decision Tuesday. A decision that flies in the face of the Governor’s recommendation for in-person education, but one the system believes is right for their students and faculty.

“We certainly welcome his thoughts and we will take those into consideration not that we haven’t already,” said Dr. Rechel Anderson, Jasper County Schools Superintendent. “But our plan in the Jasper County School District we certainly stand behind.”

It is a plan which will start the school semester on August 17 in a total virtual format.

“We are providing again as Governor McMaster has asked, a choice to our parents. Our choice however will be contingent on what is safe,” said Dr. Anderson. “It is a very fluid plan and a very thorough plan . It is very well thought and provides for our students, faculty, and staff.”

“We considered the data provided by the medical professionals and the published data from DHEC. It certainly shows our rate of incidents continuing to rise in Jasper County School District and we are in a high risk in all categories.”

That led to a change in the hybrid class and online plan initially proposed two weeks ago.

“I’m not in the business of playing Russian roulette with anyone’s life and really that’s what it feels like,” said Dr. Anderson. “That we are being asked as superintendents, as educators, to bring in students in an environment in which we work to make them safe at every level. One of the first things, when we come back to school, is we practice fire drills, we practice safety drills, we help our students understand. I’m not so certain how we are reacting now with what seems to be an unsafe mode with the data in front of us medically which indicates we are not in a safe measure to operate as normal.”

“We have been in planning mode for some time,. At some point, we have to make a decision and inform parents, students, and faculty and staff on how we are moving forward.

To make sure they get a good education, Jasper County will provide devices for all to learn on, and for those who have signed up, a drive-thru pickup for mobile “hot spots” for internet if a family needs it.

With just two weeks until Pre-K through 8th graders are expected to come back to school, a decision had to be made now.

While the semester will start online-only, the District will monitor the changes and potentially bring students back to class. But only if its the right time.

“This is a work in progress. This is a planned work in progress and we have vetted it over time. Vetted over time to ensure that this is not an abrupt shutdown,” said Dr. Anderson.

Dr. Anderson knows some parents, and possibly even the Governor will be upset over the decision. But she believes Jasper County will get through this tough time together.

“It is a sound plan. Our calendar is set,” said Dr. Anderson. “and we are not at all considering a start date of September 8.”

There was one thing Dr. Anderson would not address, fall sports.

The South Carolina High School League officially approved a delayed and shortened fall season Wednesday.

The Superintendent said she hadn’t seen the ruling and wouldn’t commit to football or any team hitting the field until she could take a better look.

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