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Schools will be closed for the remainder of the year; District graduations still happening

Virus Outbreak South Carolina

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, right, speaks at a COVID-19 briefing on Friday in West Columbia.

Governor McMaster announced on April 22nd that schools across South Carolina will remain closed through the rest of the school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor McMaster thanked educators around the state for their efforts to keep up with educational standards and students well-being during this time.

“It has been remarkable to see the effort that has been made, the highly remarkable effort,” McMaster said.

He also praised the meal programs that the districts have set up to feed students during the closures announcing that five million students have been fed since the programs began.

McMaster said that he wanted to thank all of the people who are involved in keeping our schools running during the closures. He also thanked the parents for their efforts in helping their children learn from home.

State Superintendent Molly Spearman reiterated McMaster’s sentiment thanking everyone for their efforts during these difficult times.

“It has been a burden and it has been sad to see school closed, but it has been a joy to see how everyone has pulled together on this to work for the good of our children,” Spearman said.

Spearman also said that schools will continue to operate as they have for the entire closure. She said that education will continue throughout the rest of the year even though buildings are closed.

“Our buildings will not open for the rest of the year, but learning will continue,” Spearman said.

Dorchester District 2 Superintendent Joseph Pye released a statement to the seniors in his district stating that no one could have seen this situation coming at the beginning of the school year.

“For many, 2020 began with a clear vision toward the finish line, but the line quickly blurred as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. We know you have missed many important celebrations and deserved recognitions of achievement, which you have anticipated for weeks, months, and even years in many cases,” Pye said.

He went on to say that many students were concerned about the possibility of not holding graduation ceremonies however he went onto explain that on July 17, 2020 Dorchester District 2 will hold graduation ceremonies in the North Charleston Coliseum as long as it is lawful to do so.

The class of 2020 will also be honored by a local radio station with a day long celebration of each school during the first two weeks of June.

“We applaud you for continuing to work toward fulfilling your graduation requirements as you conclude your K-12 education. Stay engaged in learning activities during our school closures, continue to connect with your teachers and friends, and spend this valuable time with your families finding new ways to bond with one another,” Pye said to the Class of 2020.

District and school leaders in the Berkeley County School District are also working toward figuring out a plan for graduations. The district is weighing different options and trying to see which would be in the best interest of the district and students.

“At this time, high school principals are working with district leaders to explore multiple venue options and schedule adjustments to include high school football stadiums and indoor facilities, and are also reviewing the option for later scheduled dates at the North Charleston Coliseum. The safety and security of students and staff remain our priority, and we will follow any social distancing and health guidelines in place. We will be surveying seniors and their parents to receive additional input regarding graduation ceremonies,” the district said in a statement.

Hanahan High School Principal Tom Gallus said that students work hard over the thirteen years and do not expect to see the school year come to such a fast close.

“This is not the way kids who started school 13 years ago envisioned high school ending,” Gallus said. “It’s devastating. The memories senior students and athletes create in the last couple of months of their high school life are things they never forget, like proms, graduations, the chance for state championships and their last performances whether it was the band, the choir or a play.”