The Aiken County Board of Education voted unanimously to postpone the start date for five-day in-person instruction in elementary schools and special education classes until October or later.
Originally, the Aiken County Public School District planned to return to full time face-to-face instruction at the elementary level on Sept. 21. However, the Back-to-School Advisory Committee recommended a later date.
Chairman Keith Liner made the motion to have a special called meeting on Oct. 6 to determine whether elementary school face-to-face classes might begin later in October, a few weeks earlier than the date recommended by the Back-to-School Advisory Committee.
The committee recommended postponing the face-to-face start date to Nov. 2, which is the beginning of the second nine weeks.
Several board members, including Barry Moulton and Sandra Shealey, emphasized that they did not intend to rush the Back-to-School Advisory Committee on their recommendation for starting school, and that they would continue to listen to the committee's concerns.
Back-to-School Advisory Committee chair Bert Postell, who is also executive director of high schools for the school district, presented COVID-19 data and the committee's concerns to the board.
Postell said the committee was impressed by declining cases in South Carolina overall, but concerned about rising child cases. The committee was also worried about only having one week of school data available, Postell said.
One of the data sets covered positive cases between Aug. 30 and Sept. 5 in the school district. According to the data, North Augusta Elementary School had the most students quarantined, with 12 students quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.
Originally, at the Sept. 8 school board meeting, board members planned to have this discussion after a Sept. 15 town hall meeting.
At the Sept. 8 meeting, Liner cautioned that the school district had "advertised” three weeks of hybrid classes for elementary schools, and said people have already planned for that date.
“I don’t have a problem with looking at it again. I think that’s the smart thing to do, to take one last look,” Liner said. “But my opinion is just that it has to be something overwhelmingly on the other side to change the decision we’ve already made.”
The school board will have a town hall at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Wagener-Salley High School, 272 Main St. S., Wagener. To view live streams of both the town hall and Friday's special called meeting, visit acpsd.net.