It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I last wrote this column for Monthly magazine. And what a year it has been: from virtual, to hybrid, to faceto- face instruction, our teachers, staff, school administrators and especially our parents have navigated these uncharted waters together, something for which I am extremely grateful.
One thing that has not changed since last year is that our goal is to operate “normal” schooling whenever it’s safe to do so. I am happy to share that schools this fall will be as normal as possible.
As per the governor’s directive, masks will be optional. Social distancing will take place to the extent possible. Children will be back eating with their friends in the cafeteria and volunteers will be welcomed back into our school buildings. (We have missed them greatly.)
We will of course continue to be in discussions with DHEC, monitoring the virus and keeping our schools safe. But one thing that became very apparent this past year is that children need to be in school to learn inperson. The South Carolina Department of Education has predicted that seven out of 10 students will be performing below grade level due to the pandemic. This problem is not only isolated to South Carolina; it’s apparent across the nation.
This fall, we will be implementing Performance Matters, a comprehensive progress monitoring system that provides a holistic view of student data trends so we can identify and address specific gaps of knowledge.
So, if you have a few hours a week to spare, we invite you to contact your local school to inquire about assisting teachers with one-on-one and small group instruction in order to help students fill these gaps.
Without question, there has never been a more pivotal time in recent history for the community to be engaged with the Beaufort County School District to truly make a difference in students’ lives and help move student achievement forward.
As a district, educators have worked hard this summer providing extended learning opportunities for students and our first summer of dual enrollment courses.
And please stay tuned for a new initiative, Parent Connections, that the district will kick off this school year and will provide additional opportunities for parent and community engagement.
I look forward to welcoming our returning families back this fall, and new ones as well. I am so appreciative of the many dedicated teachers and staff who serve our 21,000 students in so many ways.
It continues to be truly an honor to serve as your superintendent.
Frank Rodriguez is Superintendent of the Beaufort County School District.