Kevin O'Gorman

Edgefield County School Superintendent Kevin O'Gorman speaks during the July 21 evening meeting of the School Board of Trustees. 

The Edgefield County School Board of Trustees on July 21 approved an instructional plan for the first six weeks of school.

The board approved a hybrid model that would send students to school two days per week starting Aug. 24, the first day of school.

District Superintendent Dr. Kevin O’Gorman presented the plan to the board that would split students into two cohorts, with students from the same household in the same cohort.

Depending on their cohorts, students will go to school on either Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday. Wednesday will be a full remote learning day.

Students and families will also have the option of doing fully remote learning.

The district plans to reevaluate the plan by Oct. 2, six weeks after the start of school.

O’Gorman talked about why the groups would go to school on Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday, as opposed to Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday.

“Our biggest obstacle in Edgefield County is a lack of internet, in terms of teaching in either one of these models,” he said.

He talked about the availability of Chromebooks and Google applications for students to use, which would work offline.

Schoolwork could be uploaded to the device and kids could do the work offline. They would then come back to school, download that content and upload content for the next few days.

“Staggering them two days apart to three days apart really provides us to provide them with sort of a semi-connectivity if they’re home and they don’t have internet access, so that’s a huge factor in this decision making here,” O’Gorman said.

Paper instruction would also be available if necessary.

“We need to be able to adapt to what they need, not the other way around,” he said.

O’Gorman talked about flexibility, saying there’s a chance the state General Assembly might weigh in and change plans, that the spread may get worse and change conditions, or that so many staff members get sick there’s no capacity to teach.

The board approved the plan unanimously among those present. Chad Blackston was not at the meeting and did not vote.

Suzy Spurgeon with the Edgefield County Emergency Management Agency talked about the current state of the coronavirus pandemic in the county.

According to South Carolina Department of Environmental Control’s website, there have been 174 cumulative cases in Edgefield County during the pandemic.

O’Gorman said right now the county is currently at high spread.

O’Gorman talked about a statement by Gov. Henry McMaster that called for school districts to provide an opening plan that includes in-person learning five days a week.

McMaster asked state education officials not to accept any school reopening plan that doesn’t provide that option.

O’Gorman said state education superintendent Molly Spearman said she was not going to deny those plans that didn’t provide five day a week face-to-face learning and would consider hybrid blended learning models.

Lindsey Hodges is a reporter at the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star. Subscribing to the Aiken Standard will give you access to all the Aiken County news your need. Click here to sign up. 

Lindsey is the North Augusta reporter at the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star. She graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2017, and grew up in Hodges, SC.