IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Jasper County Schools Going All-Remote Until Sept. 10

The South Carolina school district is switching to virtual lessons after a surge in COVID-19 cases included dozens of students in the first week. Nearby, Beaufort County schools counted hundreds of cases in that time.

Middle-aged distance teacher having video conference call with pupil using webcam. Online education and e-learning concept. Home quarantine distance learning and working from home.
(TNS) — Jasper County School District is moving all students to remote learning until at least Sept. 10, Superintendent Rechel Anderson announced Saturday afternoon.

Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School moved to remote learning Aug. 23 after the district recorded 24 COVID infections and 96 quarantines — including the school's entire football, volleyball and cheerleading teams — in the first week of school.

"Due to the surge of the contagious virus, COVID-19 Delta variant in our community and schools, and the number of students and staff in quarantine, it is imperative that we temporarily cease in-person learning until September 10, 2021," a Saturday district press release read. "We will reevaluate date before the return date for further direction."

As of Saturday afternoon, the district reported 20 COVID infections and 62 people in quarantine among students and staff on its online dashboard, which is updated every Friday.

All school athletics will be suspended during the closure, and students will be required to log in every day for e-learning to be marked present, according to the district press release. Teachers will still go to schools to deliver remote instruction.

For students who don't have a school technology device, the district will distribute a form on Monday to schedule a time for device pick-up. There is a $35 technology fee, but there will be space on that Monday form to indicate financial difficulties, according to the press release.

Families will be able to pick up five days' worth of school breakfasts and lunches on Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on each school's campus.

South Carolina schools are currently prevented from moving permanently to virtual instruction due to a state budget proviso. If more than 5 percent of a district's students are in long-term virtual learning, the district could lose up to half of its per-pupil funding for each virtual student over that limit.

However, S.C. Department of Education spokesperson Ryan Brown said last week that the proviso does not apply to temporary school closures.

In the last month, Jasper County has reported record-breaking averages of new COVID-19 cases. As of Friday, the county's seven-day average of newly confirmed infections was 27 per day.

There has been no word in Beaufort County of moving entire schools to virtual learning. Beaufort County School District Superintendent Frank Rodriguez has repeatedly declined to name specific metrics he would use to determine whether to return classrooms, schools — or the entire district — to virtual schooling.

On Aug. 16, the first day of school, Rodriguez said he would "monitor very closely, case by case" and stay in touch with state and local health officials.

As of Wednesday, Beaufort County School District has logged at least 311 COVID-19 infections among students and staff, and had 2,008 people in quarantine.

©2021 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.