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Group of Georgetown County parents to demand return to face-to-face instruction

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Georgetown County School District will host a board meeting on Tuesday night. More than 480 concerned parents have banded together and intend to demand that the Georgetown County School District return to either four or five days of face-to-face instruction. Richard Caines/Staff

GEORGETOWN COUNTY — More than 480 “concerned” parents have banded together and intend to demand that the Georgetown County School District return to either four or five days of face-to-face instruction.

According to a press release that represents the parental group, a petition will be shared with the GCSD school board at a board meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

“Across our state and in our own community, many public and private schools have reopened to five days per week.  They have paved the way and shown us that it can be done safely,” the release said.

The release did indicate that the group is supportive of the GCSD’s decisions to date, but “we cannot and will not allow our children’s and young people’s futures to be another victim of this virus.”

On the petition, the group says that they are worried about a multitude of topics.

"We are concerned about the mental health of children, and those that don't have access to the special services they need. We are concerned about the widening socio-economic gap and the financial strain many families are under trying to give their kids a "normal" life and making sure they get the education they deserve."

While Georgetown County has averaged just over nine new COVID-19 cases per day, the GCSD's daily virus tracker indicates that 83 students and staff are currently in quarantine, while there are 13 active cases from campuses.

"From the data and science we have collected, we believe the benefits of face-to-face instruction outweigh the potential risk to our children. Our children are the last ones being allowed to adjust to this new normal. We can walk around Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Publix and eat at restaurants, but our kids can't go to school full-time. Kids in GCSD can play school sports or (participate in Georgetown recreation programs) but they can't go to school 5 days per week. We believe school should be treated as an essential business," the group said on the petition.

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The group says it supports the continuance of virtual school for those who need it.

“We realize that there are families that don't feel comfortable moving towards four or five day in-person instruction and for them the all virtual option is already in place,” the release stated.

The group will be allowed to have one representative inside the meeting room on Tuesday, although many others may be in the overflow room and outside the facility.

A decision in Greenville County gave the parental group more hope that their demands will be met, with Greenville now putting middle-school students back in the classroom five days a week.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reported 193 new cases of COVID-19 in Greenville County on Monday, or 19.7 percent of the state’s daily total. This comes on the heels of the county seeing 275 cases on Saturday and 231 on Sunday.

When asked about the logistics of returning all children to school, including social distancing, potential quarantining and other health concerns, Austin Bond of the parental group pointed to other counties that have seemingly figured it out.

"Georgetown County School District can communicate with over 20 school districts across our state which are already at five-day in-person instruction (including Berkeley County and Charleston County School Districts immediately to our south) to answer any of these logistical questions," Bond said.

Reach Nick Masuda at 843-607-0912. Follow him on Twitter at @nickmasudaphoto. 

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