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New GCSD instructional method puts kids in class 4 days per week as close as 3 feet apart

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GEORGETOWN — The Georgetown County School District announced a new instructional method on Wednesday evening, with elementary and intermediate school students now having the ability to have in-person instruction four days per week on the “Hybrid Plus” plan.

As of Feb. 1 — the start of the second semester — the two groups of students will attend brick-and-mortar school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be used for the cleaning of facilities as the district continues to attempt to fend off COVID-19.

It will combine two sets of students that are separated with the current “Hybrid” plan, all returning to the classroom together.

The “Hybrid Plus” plan was unanimously approved by the GCSD school board on Tuesday night.

According to GCSD Superintendent Keith Price, children at the elementary and intermediate levels could be as close as 3 feet apart in classrooms, saying “we will still try to keep desks 6 feet apart to the extent possible.”

Price pointed to both the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control indicating that it is safe to have students as close as 3 feet, as well as the completion of plexiglass within elementary and intermediate school classrooms as reasons for the new "Hybrid Plus" plan.

The Post and Courier Myrtle Beach recently talked to experts about medical experts about social distancing in classrooms, as well as the effectiveness of plexiglass in protecting students and teachers, the latter being referred to as a “placebo effect.”

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The “Hybrid Plus” plan was presented to both the South Carolina Department of Education and the district’s medical partner, Tidelands Health, prior to being approved.

Mask wearing and social distancing will continue to be mandated in all schools, Price said. According to DHEC and the CDC, social distancing is defined as 6 feet apart.

With GCSD in remote instruction through Jan. 22, middle and high schools will continue with current hybrid schedules when in-person instruction returns on Jan. 25.

Price indicated that those parents wishing to opt into “Hybrid Plus” will have the opportunity to do so by contacting their individual schools by Jan. 20.

On Wednesday afternoon, DHEC reported 58 new COVID-19 cases in Georgetown County, while the 7-day positive test rate is 38.7 percent (1,481 tests) and the county has an incidence rate of 704, more than triple what DHEC considers to be "high" rate of spread.

With students and teachers operating remotely, GCSD is reporting 50 positive COVID-19 cases (20 students, 30 employees), while 80 are in quarantine (34 students, 46 employees).

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

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