The 2020-21 academic year for Charleston County School District began on Sept. 8. The district had more than 13,000 students scheduled for in-person instruction during the first week of school and more than 35,000 learning virtually; either in the Virtual Academy or temporarily remote.
Additional safety precautions have been added within the schools to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus; such as wearing masks, Plexiglas barriers between desks and social distancing guidelines. Enrollment for in-person learning will be monitored and expanded as COVID trends improve.
The Moultrie News asked for reader photo submissions as students went back to school both virtual and in-person last Tuesday. Thank you parents for sending in these photos. The Moultrie News staff would like to wish everyone a very safe, healthy and excellent school year!
For all that virtual learning may offer students during the current health crisis, physical education seems to rarely be included in the remote curriculum.
The Mount Pleasant Recreation Department is hoping to help balance the deficiencies by starting a physical education class for children ages 5-11 that meets once a week in Park West. The afternoon class is designed for distance learners but is open to anyone. Attendees will spend an hour each Friday for at least eight weeks, learning and playing in a small group setting similar to that of a typical gym class.
“It’s a way for kids to get a much-needed release at the end of the week that’s missing from their virtual school,” Mount Pleasant recreation specialist Erin Wilson said. “Exercise is so important to children, especially at this age. And parents deserve a chance to take a deep breath too and let their kids go play.”
The idea was born within a Facebook group of local mothers. The recreation department has been doing something similar with home-schooled children and double-dutch jump rope classes for years. The new program evolved from that concept with a framework tailored more toward an elementary gym class that is open to everyone. The recreation department provided the structure; Rebecca Bott is supplying the direction.
Bott is the owner of Strech-n-Grow, a comprehensive fitness and health organization for children with locations in Charleston, Columbia and Savannah, Ga. Under normal circumstances, Bott and her Stretch-n-Grow team would visit preschools, daycares, churches and private schools to lead physical education classes. Motor skills and the fundamentals of exercise are emphasized. Stretch-n-Grow was serving about 2,000 children a week before COVID-19 shut down much of its business.
“The whole idea is to teach kids to love fitness early,” said Bott, a mother of four. “We started to brainstorm during the quarantine. All these children are going to be sitting on a computer all day. We need to get these kids moving.”
Bott’s life work is physical education. She lives it, along with her husband, Tim, the department head of health and human performance at The Citadel. He’s written a dissertation on physical activity and its positive effects on brain functionality. Years of research have gone into constructing Bott’s approach to physical activity among young children.
“I think mental health and exercise go hand-in-hand,” Bott said. “The brain works better when we get our muscles moving. This is our way to try to hopefully help with that until the kids are back in school. For now, we’re trying to help provide what virtual school is lacking.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a 2019 report that “long-term studies have demonstrated that increases in physical activity, resulting from greater time spent in physical education, were related to improved academic performance.
“Even single sessions of physical activity have been associated with better scores on academic tests, improved concentration and more efficient transfers of information from short- to long-term memory. Children participating in physical activity are better able to stay focused and remain on task in the classroom, thus enhancing the learning experience.”
And the effects aren’t simply academic either. Bott says the social dynamic of a typical gym class, or in this case the recreation department’s physical education class, can be just as important to a child’s development.
“Kids aren’t having the chance to interact or get together,” Bott said. “We forget sometimes how important that aspect of this is. They’re missing opportunities to develop those social skills that are so important at that age.”
The new class is not designed to replicate the state standards of typical physical education classes in schools, Bott said. But it’s an organized stopgap of sorts, possibly even more effective in some respects to the development of young children.
Campers will participate in different exercises requiring various skills like dribbling or striking a ball. Activities are designed to stray from the common at-home exercise they might receive running around or riding a bike. In addition to the weekly class, they’ll be provided daily routines to perform at home and report back on progress the following week. The daily plans make it easier on parents and add a measure of accountability with goals for the children to try to reach.
“It’s a really fun way to get our kids moving,” Bott said. “And keep them active all week.”
The class will be held at the town’s programming building in Park West; there’s room indoors, a covered porch and a field in the backyard. The classes work within limited groups to ensure each child is receiving the proper attention. The plan is to focus on a younger age group initially and then consider expansion.
Should interest continue to grow, Wilson says the recreation department is open to offering a second hour, or maybe a separate day earlier in the week depending on participation and facility availability. If the class is a success, there’s a chance it continues even after children return to school in-person fulltime.
“We’d love to have this regularly offered. I think this sort of thing is vital for children, especially now,” Wilson said. “There’s obviously the physical benefits but just to see another child’s face smiling across from them right now is a big deal. It’s so important right now for these children to know they’re not alone and they can still go out there and play and be children.”
Longtime area shrimp boat captain Wayne Magwood died Sept. 11 in an auto-pedestrian collision on Coleman Boulevard. He was 67 years old.
Magwood will forever be remembered in the Mount Pleasant community for his dedication to the shrimping industry for more than 30 years. He recently retired and sold his famous Winds of Fortune vessel in July.
Magwood started shrimp trawling at 12 years old. As previously reported by the Moultrie News, his best catch aboard the Winds of Fortune was on opening day of shrimp season in 1996. The crew fetched 10,000 pounds of shrimp in 13 hours and turned around and sold it for $3 per pound and made $30,000.
In 2007, Magwood purchased the land and built the marina on Magwood Dock, where Simmons Marina is located today. After Magwood sold the property to the bank in 2014, the marina recently sold once more in June for just under $4 million.
In July, Magwood shared that he was looking forward to the slower pace of life in retirement and the opportunity to offer advice to shrimpers on the creek.
The Town of Mount Pleasant and the Magwood family have worked together for the past 33 years to put on an annual Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival to honor local shrimpers and fisherman.
The third-generation shrimper was considered an icon by locals. Over the weekend social media was flooded with remembrance posts complimenting Magwood’s character and memories shared over the years on the creek.
Tarvin’s Seafood posted a photo of Magwood by Shem Creek and wrote “Goodnight sweet friend. We all love and miss you already!”
Shem Creek Fisheries thanked the community for the outpouring of admiration to his family and the shrimping fleet. It also announced that there are plans in the works for a public celebration of life event and to check back to their Facebook page for updates.
Rest in peace Wayne Magwood.
After two hours of public comments at the Sept. 8 Mount Pleasant Town Council meeting, followed by discussion among councilmembers, an ordinance requiring face masks passed its first reading.
The town’s previous ordinance requiring masks in grocery stores, pharmacies, town municipal buildings, salons and barber shops expired on Aug. 29. The council met in a special meeting on Sept. 1 to vote on an emergency ordinance to renew requirement of wearing face coverings in certain circumstances. The emergency ordinance failed to receive a two-thirds majority vote, with five councilmembers in favor and four against a mask mandate.
Currently, the only mask enforcement in Mount Pleasant is under Gov. Henry McMaster’s Executive Order 2020-50 which requires restaurant employees to wear face coverings. Although, the town’s resolution issued on July 29 encouraging residents and visitors to wear face coverings “everywhere” is still in place.
The ordinance that passed first reading on Sept. 8 would once again require masks in grocery stores, pharmacies, town-owned/operated buildings, retail stores, salons, gyms and other facilities where employees and citizens experience face-to-face contact.
Planning Committee Chair, councilmember G.M. Whitley requested the mask ordinance be placed on the regularly scheduled monthly council meeting agenda. Mayor Will Haynie agreed to place the item on the Sept. 8 meeting agenda. Only a simple majority vote would be needed for the ordinance to pass first reading since it was not listed as an emergency ordinance.
Citizens filled the Council Chambers of the Municipal Complex on Tuesday evening. When the room reached 50% capacity, overflow of individuals signed up for the public comments portion were directed to additional spaces within Town Hall to wait their turn to speak. Some even lined up outside as they waited. Sixty-six individuals signed up to speak during public comments, and 60 ended up making remarks before the council.
The comments from members of the public both defended reasoning for mask mandates and opposed the governing body’s decision to require face coverings. Several times throughout the public comments, Police Chief Carl Ritchie called order in the meeting hall due to outbursts of applauding and shouting, which is prohibited at council meetings.
People of all ages and professions approached the podium to defend their reasoning and beliefs to council regarding face coverings in certain establishments, to include: medical professionals, business owners, parents, general members of the public and one high school student. Each individual had two minutes to address the council.
When the two hours of public comments commenced, the town councilmembers spoke on their reasoning for why they would or would not be voting in favor of a mask ordinance. Haynie explained no amendments could be made to a town ordinance at first reading, but they could consider amendments at second reading.
The councilmembers voted the same as they had in the special meeting for the Emergency Ordinance a week prior: Haynie, Whitley, Howard Chapman, Laura Hyatt and Jake Rambo voted in approval of the ordinance; Brenda Corley, Kathy Landing, Tom O’Rourke and Gary Santos voted against the ordinance. To view the full Sept. 8 Council Meeting, including the public comments and council discussion, visit bit.ly/MtPSept8.
A date for a council meeting to vote on the second reading of the mask ordinance has not been announced at this time.