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The Florence City School System is preparing it's virtual curriculum and making changes to parts of school buildings for the upcoming school year, after the state announced its guidance to school systems on Friday.
Superintendent Dr. Jimmy Shaw said the have polled parents to see if they think it's safe to send their kids back to a traditional classroom and the response has been yes. Shaw said only 10-15% of parents said they plan on using Florence's virtual school.
"The more information we have on students who choose virtual the better we can plan," said Shaw.
The district was one of the first in the state to have a virtual school option even before the coronavirus pandemic but now they are expanding its virtual school to all grades and making tweaks to give parents more options.
"If you're a parent that wants a great deal of hands-on you can choose that level or if you're a parent that feels all you really need is our curriculum you can choose that, too," said Shaw.
Shaw said he believes a lot of parents will send their kids back to the traditional classroom. Front offices will have plexiglass shields and more changes are being discussed.
"I'm not going to say that were going to have plexiglass around every desk in the classroom," said Shaw.
Shaw said it's not feasible to have every desk in a classroom spaced six feet, either. It depends on the amount of students per class and how large the classrooms are.
"You would either have to cut your class size in half or build new buildings to have six feet apart in your schools. I think your desks are naturally three feet or more apart and we are looking at maximizing all the space we have," said Shaw.
Shaw, who’s also a father of triplets, said he's going through this as a parent and knows what his kids missed the most when schools shut down.
"It's been heartbreaking to see my children want to be close to other children but as a parent it's been concerning to see the numbers rise and what does that mean for my own children," said Shaw.
The school system is working with Comcast to tackle the access to wifi students will need if they choose virtual school or if school systems are shutdown again.
He said they plan to have staff meetings over the next few days to get more plans in place. School administrators were already working on plans and navigating this new normal. They have worked tirelessly and have more work to do.
Florence City School students will go back to school Aug 20. Shaw said they pushed the school start date to have more time to put their plans in place.