BEAUFORT COUNTY SCHOOLS WILL PROVIDE BEST POSSIBLE EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES
Closing school buildings due to safety concerns is always a difficult decision. Families are unsettled, parents’ work schedules are disrupted and, most importantly, children don’t get the comprehensive level of services they receive when schools are operating normally.
The Beaufort County School District must also protect the safety of its nearly 3,000 adult employees, nearly half of whom are at high risk themselves, who live with someone at high risk or serve as primary caregivers for someone at high risk.
When Beaufort County and 16 other South Carolina districts made the decision to open the new school year in full-virtual fashion, COVID-19 was raging out of control. Beaufort County was consistently rated “high” in all three metrics established by the state Department of Health of Environmental Control to measure COVID risk factors.
As September approached, however, widespread masking and social distancing precautions appeared to be having their desired affects, and infection rates and percent positive testing numbers started to decrease.
We decided to resume face-to-face instruction for about 140 students with severe disabilities, then shortly thereafter we decided to resume face-to-face instruction for all students who chose that option. Parents could also choose an all-virtual option for their children.
Our goal is to operate “normal” schooling whenever it’s safe to do so. Beaufort County’s schools are the hearts of their neighborhoods and communities, and we are confident that we will weather the brutal storm of this global pandemic together and provide the best possible educational experiences for our students and their families.
I would like to thank all of our teachers, staff, school administrators, and especially our parents as we navigate these unchartered waters. Recent visits to schools have affirmed my affection for the dedication of our faithful employees and our students. Never before have I been so proud to represent Beaufort County schools.
Frank Rodriguez is Superintendent of the Beaufort County School District.