MARION, S.C. -- The Marion County Board of Education approved Superintendent Dr. Kandace Bethea's Safe Start Reopening Plan for the 2020-21 school year Tuesday night. The plan will be submitted to the State Department of Education for final approval.

“This plan is the result of our administrative team working together to devise a plan that puts the safety of students, staff and community first as well as providing sound educational options for our children,” Bethea said.

Bethea said the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC-DHEC) metrics currently indicate that all metrics being monitored rate Marion County as a high risk area. Based on the information, all students will receive remote instruction with a combination of live and recorded lessons using digital curricula and resources.

Students will follow a daily schedule and new learning will occur. Students will have an onsite Learn, Evaluate, Analyze, Prepare (LEAP) week at the end of each month allowing each student to come onsite, to their school, one to two days for an instructional check-in and assessments. Learning packets will also be available as needed. Traditional 4K and Montessori will be virtual as well but will include options for onsite days as needed.

The district is also offering families the option to apply to a Virtual Academy. The program is offered to students who are not ready to return to the traditional environment and will engage in daily online learning. Application to the program does ask for a year-long commitment.

The re-opening plan also calls for an official first day of school to be Tuesday, Sept.8. The delayed start will allow for much needed planning and professional development time, Bethea said.

Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade will also participate in a LEAP program from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1. The program is required face-to-face and funded through the General Assembly. Students will be invited to attend either one or two days during the week to administer required assessments.

“Our Safe Start Guide is meant to be fluid,” Bethea said. “As the metrics from SC-DHEC show a safer environment then the district will move to hybrid model.”

In this approach, student attendance will rotate on an A/B type schedule, allowing students multiple face –to-face days with a FLEX day each week for teachers to provide interventions and additional support. The hybrid model will not include the students enrolled in the Virtual Academy. Once the SCDHEC metrics show a low spread then a more traditional model will be implemented that will include movement restrictions.

Bethea said final plans are subject to approval by the South Carolina Department of Education.

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