berea elementary school
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100 Berea Drive, Greenville, SC 29617 (864) 355-1500 Fax (864) 355-1558
News and Notes
GCS requests community’s help in reversing COVID trend
As COVID cases in Greenville County and the State of South Carolina continue to rise, Greenville County Schools is asking students, parents, and the greater community to help ensure the return to in-person school in the district is not derailed by rising numbers. GCS is asking all citizens to follow DHEC guidelines to help reverse the current increase: wear a mask when in public, avoid large gatherings, frequently wash or sanitize hands and high-touch surfaces, stay home and away from others when sick, and seek medical advice when running a fever, developing a new or worsening cough, experiencing shortness of breath, or losing the sense of taste or smell.
Thanks to the cooperation of employees and students, who have complied with established COVID-19 protocols while at school, the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 remains lower in our schools than in the community as a whole. In fact, based on statistical analyses using DHEC community spread data and internal GCS reporting, the risk of getting COVID-19 for those who attend or work at a public school in Greenville County is about half the rate of the community as a whole. Still, the Superintendent cautioned today that even if schools continue to be a less risky environment than the surrounding community, there is a point at which the district could be forced to return to 100% eLearning if the number of employees and substitutes available to work was insufficient for the proper supervision and instruction of students.
“In addition to normal employee absences, we are currently averaging over 150 vacancies each day as a result of isolation due to a positive COVID diagnosis (avg. 40) or quarantining due to direct exposure or possible symptoms (avg. 110),” said Superintendent Burke Royster. “By comparison, 29 employees were in isolation and 66 in quarantine on November 1. We want to keep schools open for in-person instruction, move forward with our plan to return middle school students to full-time face-to-face, and increase high school in-person attendance, but we need the cooperation of the community.”
Teachers who quarantine or experience only mild COVID symptoms can teach remotely from home, but schools must still have a responsible adult in each classroom to provide supervision and ensure students stay on task. With a significant number of substitutes who have refused all offered assignments this year, it is becoming increasingly difficult to fill in for absent teachers. Media specialists, school counselors, instructional coaches, and administrators are all being called on to help supervise classes, but at the expense of their usual duties and responsibilities.
Earlier this week, principals were instructed to have teachers prepare eLearning lessons in case a spike in cases over the upcoming holidays required GCS to revert temporarily to 100% eLearning. “We are not planning to go backwards on our Roadmap, nor do we wish to do so,” said Royster, “but it would be irresponsible of us not to prepare for that possibility, given the current trend.”