Coronavirus update: SC schools closed; Beaufort County Schools will feed children

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Total number of cases in state rises to 28

From staff reports

As expected, with the numbers of COVID-19 cases increasing, Gov. Henry McMaster today ordered all South Carolina schools to close until March 31.

All school-related events, including after-school activities and spring sports, have been put on hold by the governor’s order.

A news release from Beaufort County School District said while schools are closed, students will be able to participate in online learning activities. The schools will communicate with parents on Monday about those procedures, and paper-based work packets will be prepared for students who don’t have Internet access at home.

“This is an unprecedented situation, something that has never occurred in our lifetimes,” Superintendent Frank Rodriguez said in a release. “But our school teams have been preparing for this, and they’re moving forward with their plans.”

In addition to at-home lessons, the school district will offer free breakfasts and lunches on weekdays at regional pick-up locations across the county. The first availability will be lunch on Monday.

“Thousands of Beaufort County families depend on our schools to provide meals for kids, and we don’t want the current emergency to stop that,” Rodriguez said. “Our food service contractor, Sodexo, has set up a distribution system we can fine-tune as needed in the days ahead.”

Rodriguez said any child age 18 or younger can receive free breakfasts and lunches regardless of meal status during the school year.

Meals will be prepared and transported to 11 sites across the county: Battery Creek High School, Beaufort High School, Beaufort Middle School, Bluffton High School, Hilton Head Island High School, James J. Davis Early Childhood Center, Okatie Elementary School, Red Cedar Elementary School, St. Helena Elementary School, Whale Branch Early College High School and the Port Royal YMCA.

Drive-through meal pick-ups will be available in the bus rider drop-offs at each location from 7:15-8:45 a.m. (breakfast) and 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (lunch).

Students must be present at the time of pick up. All food will be “grab-and-go,” with no food consumed on site. No one will be allowed in the school buildings.

Breakfast items will vary and may include cereal with milk, fruit, Fruit Frudels, whole grain Pop Tarts, cereal bars, milk and juice. Lunches will be sandwiches, fruit, fresh vegetables and milk.

Schools are closed for MCAS Beaufort as well, according to a statement on the MCAS Beaufort Facebook page: “In alignment with Governor McMaster’s announcement that all public schools will be closed and in cooperation with Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), the commanding officer of MCAS Beaufort authorizes the closure of all DoDEA schools on Laurel Bay. DoDEA will be sending out more information regarding the closure shortly.”

Lowcountry Montessori School is closed for the next two weeks, as well. Parents were notified in an email that went out Sunday morning.

S.C. DHEC is investigating nine additional cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, as of Sunday afternoon. This brings the total number of cases statewide to 28.