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Q&A: How to navigate the reopening of Georgetown County School District

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Keith Price webinar (copy)

Keith Price, superintendent for the Georgetown County School District. (Kareem Wilson/South Strand News)

With the start of a new academic year right around the corner in the midst of a pandemic comes many questions.

Georgetown County School District is set to start the new year in its remote phase on Sept. 8. The district announced early August it would begin with its remote instruction plan from its Remote to Prime option for brick and mortar schools. GCSD is also offering a totally virtual program, which will begin the same day.

The Post and Courier has compiled answers to questions Georgetown County students, parents and guardians may have ahead of the new academic year. 

How long will students in brick and mortar schools be remote? When does the district plan to reassess moving into the next phase of the remote to prime plan?

The district plans to operate in the remote phase for at least the first two weeks. GCSD will release its operating phase based on a two-week basis, which is based on South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control reports and collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Education, said GCSD Superintendent Keith Price in an Aug. 26 announcement.

GCSD has received approval from the South Carolina Department of Education and GCSD Board of Education to review GCSD’s reopening plan on a weekly basis instead of the bi-weekly review that was required in our original reopening plan, said GCSD spokesperson Ray White. 

A decision on week 3 (Sept. 21-25) will be made during the first week of school based on DHEC ratings. This will allow for the possibility of moving to HYBRID in week 3 if the numbers justify it, White said. Schools and families will still have two weeks notice to prepare for any change.

How will GCSD parents and guardians be able to get in touch and set up meetings with teachers or administrators?

Schools and teachers will be setting up virtual meetings, White said. Communication tools including e-mail and Remind 101, along with regular mail, will be used for active communication. Each administrator and teacher has access to voicemail, White said.

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How will students be graded for the year?

Grading will follow traditional GCSD grading policies, White said.

Will the district provide meals for students while they are remote or if they are enrolled in the virtual program?

Meals will be provided to all students – virtual and school based. During the remote phase, meals will be distributed following the schedule used over the summer: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Meals must be picked up from the student’s home school, the school where students are registered. During the hybrid phase, meals will continue to be available for pick up by virtual students. For more information, contact Food Services at 843-436-7077.

How can students receive their devices for online learning? And is the district offering wifi hotspots?

Device pick-up dates county wide are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 1 and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m on Sept. 2.

Students will have the opportunity to receive a hotspot if their family does not currently have internet access at home. GCSD distributed hot spots from the Beck Administration Building on August 26-27. Two additional days have been designated for hot spot pickup – 9 a.m. – 3 p.m Sept. 3- 4 at the Beck Administration Building.

The GCSD technology department has been working closely with students who are eligible for free wifi through the district’s program and devices, Price said. All four county high schools will offer free wifi in parking lots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for those in need of wifi. There will be additional spots set up in parking lots, including in Browns Ferry, Plantersville, Pleasant Hill and Sampit elementary schools.

Community partners will also be opening their facilities to offer free wifi access. Those spots include St. Luke Church on Rose Hill Road, Hopewell AME Church on County Line Road and First Baptist Church on Cleland and Highmarket streets.

Reach Hannah Strong at 843-277-4687. Follow her on Twitter @HannahLStrong.

Hannah Strong covers education in Horry and Georgetown counties. She is a native of Pawleys Island and graduate of Winthrop University. In her free time, she likes to read, surf and cook.

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