F1S board approves plan for upcoming school year
Reopening plan offers alternate-day instruction option as well as a virtual academy.
The Florence One School District has a plan in place for the upcoming a school year and it does not include five day a week face-to-face learning option, as urged by S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster.
The Florence One Board of Trustees gave unanimous approval to a multi-option plan presented by Superintendent Dr. Richard O’Malley during a meeting on July 17.
The plan offers students three options: The first option is for students to alternate between in-person and online instruction. The second option is online learning where the student will pick up or download assignments and complete them at home. This is similar to the plan implemented at the end of the 2019-20 school year. The final option is a virtual academy, in which students will attend classes online each day on a platform that allows them to interact with their teacher and fellow students.
“I have no reason to say I will put students in schools five days a week right now when everything else is telling me that is not how you start,” said O’Malley.
O’Malley added that the school district didn’t devise the plan on their own. He said they received guidance from local healthcare experts at McLeod, MUSC Florence, and Hope Health to make the safest decisions possible.
The school year is scheduled to begin Sept. 8.
During a press conference on July 16, Gov. Henry McMaster said he wanted school districts to give parents the choice between face-to-face instruction or virtual instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. He also instructed the state superintendent to reject any plans that don’t include the option for face-to-face learning.
O’Malley told the board if the state rejects the plan, they will continue with it and are willing to accept the consequences.
The board unanimously supported the plan and agreed to accept any potential consequences from the state.
The superintendent said the coronavirus must be taken seriously and they are doing everything possible to maintain health and safety.
”I want people to understand that this is a healthcare problem. It is a crisis that is real. People are dying and it is real and we are taking it that seriously and then we are trying to put our educational system into a system that is going to be the best way to keep our staff and students safe and healthy,” said O’Malley.
During the meeting, O’Malley also touched on a number of other issues regarding health and safety. Among them:
• O’Malley said the district has been allocated $4.5 million through the CARES act and explained how it’s being used for the upcoming school year.
• Florence One is decreasing the number of students per bus by almost 50 percent and will try to increase the number of buses to maintain social distancing.
• The district has ordered roughly $1.5 million worth masks, gloves and face shields, and other products.