As of late Friday, there were 10 school districts in the state that are fully virtual due to COVID-19, and 10 more have a mix of schools that are either face to face or fully remote.
The state Department of Education in Columbia is tracking districts' operational status with the current COVID-19 outbreak, and a department spokesman spoke Friday to The Sumter Item.
Locally, only Manning-based Clarendon School District 2 has temporarily moved fully virtual with student instruction. The vast majority of districts that have shifted to remote learning are in more rural areas of the state with less than 3,000 students enrolled.
Only one large district — Summerville-based Dorchester School District 2 with 24,000 students — is currently fully virtual, according to data from the state department.
Schools and districts only have permission from the state to move to virtual instruction temporarily when they incur a more-than 50% staffing shortage resulting from COVID-19, such as positive cases and quarantines. The guidance also dictates the school or district must move back to face-to-face instruction as soon as staff becomes available.
Most of the districts that are mixed with a portion of schools currently virtual are in larger metropolitan areas with dozens of schools. For example, as of Friday, Charleston County School District featured nine temporarily virtual schools, Horry County School District had six such schools, and Lexington School District 1 had seven.
The 10 mixed districts account for 37 virtual schools at this time.
DISTRICTS IMPLEMENTING THEIR OWN MASK MANDATES
Derek Phillips, a state Department of Education spokesman, added Friday he was only aware of about seven school districts that have imposed mask requirements/mandates despite a state budget amendment banning them. That was also the total last week. The state has 77 school districts.
On Aug. 23, Sumter School District's Board of Trustees voted down a school mask requirement 5-4.
Related to this issue, the state Supreme Court has still not ruled on a case involving Richland School District 2 that involves districts implementing mask mandates. The case was initially before the high court on Aug. 31. South Carolina's top court did rule against the city of Columbia after it created a mask mandate for its schools.
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