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Parents express frustration with District 52's hybrid learning decision

kids

Children brought signs to the board meeting on Tuesday to show their parents' concerns about virtual learning.

NINETY SIX — Parents of students at Greenwood County School District 52 left Tuesday’s board meeting were disappointed after the district voted to return to hybrid learning for the second semester.

“It’s not a surprise,” Adriana Free, parent of a seventh-grader, said. “It’s disappointing.”

The board voted 3-2 to keep students on a hybrid schedule. Dr. Bryan Green and Kevin Campbell wanted to return to five days a week.

“We keep working, even though we have high numbers,” Green said. “We wear masks and wash our hands. Education is essential. We need to get kids back in school.”

Principals said the teachers felt safest staying on a hybrid schedule because of staffing issues and an inability to social distance with all the students in a classroom at once.

“There is no right answer,” board chairman Jeff Chapman said. “We all want the best education, but we also want to be safe.”

District 52 Superintendent Rex Ward said, “We have to be conscious of how to keep everyone healthy.”

The board also cited teacher shortages as a reason to stay hybrid, stating if students were instructed in person for a full five days each week, the teacher-student ratio would be thrown off.

Also, because Greenwood County has a high two-week incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents — it’s nearly 1,000 when “high” is anything above 201 — the board wants to remain on a hybrid schedule.

A few parents said they might remove their children from the district because of the decision to stay hybrid.

“We’re considering Greenwood Christian Academy,” Free said. In a Facebook group, another parent said she was thinking about moving her child to Greenwood County School District 50.

Parents said they were frustrated about a lack of structure for their children. They blame virtual learning for test scores going down. Free said her son, Austin, is normally a great student but she has noticed he isn’t doing as well in virtual.

Free spoke before the board at the monthly meeting: “Lack of structure leads to anxiety and other issues for kids.”

“Sometimes it takes teachers 4-5 hours to answer a question,” Adriana Free’s husband, Dustin Free, said. “Teachers are overworked because they are teaching in person and virtual.”

Dustin Free added that COVID-19 numbers are still climbing, even though the students are in virtual learning.

Contact staff writer Megan Milligan at 864-943-5644 or follow her on Twitter @ij_megan.

COVID-19

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

State health officials reported 3,528 new confirmed cases and 97 probable cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, along with 23 additional confirmed deaths and eight probable deaths.

This week, Greenwood County School District 52 has received reports of seven people testing positive for COVID-19, while five await test results and 30 are quarantined, the district said in a Friday afternoon release.

As vaccines begin to trickle into the arms of state residents and novel coronavirus cases remain high nationally and throughout the Palmetto State, a fifth Index-Journal employee has tested positive for the respiratory virus. The first positive case at the newspaper occurred in July.

The Lakelands added four confirmed COVID-19 deaths on Thursday — two in Greenwood County and one each in Laurens and Abbeville counties — increasing Greenwood County's virus death toll to more than 100.

Self Regional Healthcare is offering a new way for people to sign up to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment online via email.

Greenwood County recorded its 99th confirmed COVID-19 death on Wednesday — as did Laurens County.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the Lakelands and the country respond to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has led to state and national emergency declarations, it is vital for everyone to have up-to-date information about the virus and its spread. As such, we're providing free access to all of our COVID-19 coverage, which is available on this page.

Here's the latest information on COVID-19 from health agencies and hospitals: