From staff reports
With more than half of the student body in quarantine as a result of being deemed a close-contact of someone with COVID-19, Whale Branch Middle School (WBMS) will be temporarily shifting to virtual instruction this Friday for one full school week, according to a release from the Beaufort County School District (BCSD).
This temporary, all-virtual, learning period is scheduled thru Friday, Sept. 17. Regular face-to-face instruction will resume on Monday, Sept. 20. The decision to change the mode of instruction was made to mitigate any potential spread of the virus and ensure the continuity of learning for all students.
“The decision to transition an entire school to virtual learning, even temporarily, is not made lightly,” Superintendent Frank Rodriguez said in a release, explaining that each school’s situation is complex and unique to their circumstances. “As school and district administrators, we take many factors into consideration when analyzing the impact that COVID-19 is having on a school’s ability to effectively and safely continue normal operations.”
Through Sunday, Sept. 12 the total number of positive cases for the BCSD for roughly the first three weeks of the school year sits at 787 students and 75 faculty and staff members.
Throughout the entire district, there are 2,254 students and 38 faculty and staff members quarantining. That’s just shy of 11 percent of Beaufort County public school students.
BCSD does not require masks. The Beaufort Board of Education is awaiting a S.C. Supreme Court ruling on a mask mandate enacted by Richland County before voting on a mask mandate of it’s own
At WBMS, virtual instruction will be provided following the normal school day schedule. Teachers will Zoom live instruction to students during their regularly scheduled class time.
Any WBMS student in need of a hot-spot device to assist with internet connectivity can obtain one from the school’s front office.
Student meals will continue to be provided during this time frame. WBMS will be sharing information about meal pick-up times with their families.
“We realize this temporary shift to virtual learning is an inconvenience for families,” said Rodriguez. “But, we are prepared to do what is necessary to keep our students and staff safe.”
Photo by Bob Sofaly