CHALRESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charles Pinckney and Sullivan’s Island Elementary Schools in the Charleston County School District (CCSD) on Tuesday announced that they will move to virtual learning effective Wednesday, September 1.
According to statements from the schools, the virtual learning period is expected to last two weeks.
The move follows that of CCSD’s Early College High School, which went virtual on Friday.
Leaders said that the decision “is based on the number of positive COVID-19 vases associated with [the] school and the number of students quarantined as close contacts.”
“While we know this will be initially challenging for our school community, we are making this adjustment to ensure student/staff safety and to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on our campus among students and staff… Given our discussions and review of data with medical professionals, please know this is the best option for our students at this time.”
Pinckney parents can drive by the school Wednesday between 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. to pick up iPads for students.
Both schools said that they will “do extensive, additional cleaning of [the] building, including 100% disinfection fogging [Tuesday night], which will allow [the] staff members to teach remotely from their classrooms.”
CCSD leaders say they have confidence in their efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
CCSD Director of Communications, Andrew Pruitt, says officials are constantly asking themselves “knowing that there is a high level of spread in the community… what can we do to limit that spread when children and staff members are coming into our buildings?”
Some of those strategies, according to Pruitt, include upgraded air filtration systems and enhanced cleaning protocols.
Health professionals say deciding between virtual and in-person learning is a balancing act. Dr. Kenneth Perry, an emergency physician at Trident, explained “there’s no one plan that works for every place, every option, every possibility.”
One of the best tools available, according to Dr. Perry, is the COVID-19 vaccine. He said that “the best option is that any staff member or any student that is over the age of 12 and that can get vaccinated” receives the shot.
Dr. Perry says for those who are too young to get COVID-19 vaccines — which is all elementary-aged kids — mitigation measures such as those put in place by CCSD are crucial.
The CCSD changes could be just the first of the week. Dorchester District Two’s Board of Education will hold a workshop meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss school district operations amid a rise in COVID-19 cases. A transition to virtual learning is expected to be discussed.
Editor’s note: This story is breaking and will be updated.