Reopening Schools Frequently Asked Questions
Will Chromebooks be available for students that didn’t need one when schools closed in the spring?
Yes a device will be available and your child's school will be sharing information on the process for picking up devices.
How often are the disease activity numbers checked and how often will the phases be changed?
The district's three phases for returning to school are based on the South Carolina AccelerateED recommendations and the S.C. DHEC assessment for overall disease levels for our community.
Every Monday DHEC is publishing the Disease Activity by County assessment on the agency's website. Based on their calculations, DHEC rates disease activity as either high, medium or low. Schools will follow the Phase 1 model while the overall rating for Richland County remains at the high level. Schools will follow the Phase 2 model while the overall rating for Richland County remains at the medium level. In Phase 3, the overall rating for the county is low and schools can transition to more traditional operations.
District administrators check this report every Monday and the district's health coordinator maintains regular contact with S.C. DHEC to help us monitor the disease activity in our community. To help parents keep up with this information, we have a link on our Reopening Schools Website to the DHEC site. The transition between phases will not be immediate. Right now we anticipate giving schools and parents a two-week notice prior to transitioning from one phase to another.
Learning Model Options
I made a mistake when I chose the learning model for my child(ren). How can I fix it?
No problem. You're not locked into the choices you select on the form. Simply complete the form again and your previous response(s) will be overwritten.
You are not locked in to your choices that you select on the form. The selections you make on the form now will help us with our initial planning for the phases. However, we understand that parents may change their minds once we are actually transitioning from one phase to another or a family's circumstances may have changed since they completed the Learning Model Selection form in July. Our schools will work with our families to accommodate those changes. As you noted, the one exception to this is the R2eSchool which does require parents and students to commit to remaining in R2eSchool for the entire 2020-2021 school year if the student is accepted into the program.
In Phase 2, if we choose classroom communities and change our mind when that time comes and want to stay in eLearning, can we? Or do we have to stick with what we choose on the form? (Outside of R2elearning. We are not doing that)
Can you explain the learning models?
Virtual School Program
The Richland Two Virtual School Program (R2eSchool) will serve students in kindergarten through 12th grade as a comprehensive schooling option. Families who choose to attend R2eSchool will maintain their stay for the length of the 2020-2021 school year. For the 2021-2022 school year and beyond, families can choose to stay e-students or they may transfer back to their zoned or assigned school.
Instruction in the R2eSchool will be delivered by highly qualified Richland Two educators who, like many of you, found success and want to continue in an eLearning environment. Students in the program will adhere to South Carolina and Richland Two academic standards. Additionally, students will have the opportunity for competency based learning opportunities through personalized instructional modules. Students will be provided a device and families are responsible for providing Internet access and a supportive virtual learning environment at home.
Students participate in eLearning five days a week with teachers from their zoned/assigned school. Richland Two teachers have undergone significant training and development in eLearning techniques and strategies over the summer so students and parents can expect an effective and organized approach to new learning, assignments and assessments. Because this is not an urgent and rapid deployment of eLearning like we experienced in the spring, families should expect a full return to mandatory attendance in the eLearning sessions and grading policies as established by the South Carolina Department of Education Uniform Grading Policies and Richland Two expectations.
School-based Hybrid for middle and high schools
This option incorporates in-person learning at a physical school or district site and also includes an eLearning component. Students report to school two days a week (either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday) and participate in eLearning three days a week. Specific details on what days students report to school and what days they participate in eLearning will be determined as the plans are finalized. Federal, state and local guidance will be followed as it relates to physical distancing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other health concerns at each school and site.
Classroom Community -- Elementary schools only
Students come to schools five days a week and are organized in “classroom communities.” Each “classroom community” stays together primarily in one location during the school day including meals. Federal, state and local guidance will be followed as it relates to physical distancing, PPE and other health concerns at each school and site.
What determines which learning models are offered?
The Reopening Schools Task Force created three phases of reopening based on the South Carolina AccelerateED recommendations and the DHEC assessment for overall disease levels for our community. Schools will follow the Phase 1 model while the overall rating for Richland County remains at the high level. In this phase, the learning models are all virtual (eLearning and R2eSchool) as in-person instruction at schools is not advised. Schools will follow the Phase 2 model while the overall rating for Richland County remains at the medium level. Options will then include A/B days blended with eLearning days at the middle and high schools or classroom communities at the elementary schools. In Phase 3, the overall rating for the county is low and schools can transition to more traditional operations for in-person instruction at schools. Please see the graphic below.
What’s the difference between eLearning and R2eSchool (virtual school)?
R2eSchool is a program created by expanding the already existing Richland Two Virtual School and it requires a year-long commitment for the 2020-2021 school year. Our R2eSchool program is similar to online schools like Connections Academy or SC Virtual Charter School. The R2eSchool Program will not be offering special options like magnet programs that are offered by many Richland Two schools. If accepted in the R2eSchool, students will not be able to return to their zone/assigned school during the 2020-2021 school year for in-person instruction. Richland Two will continue to offer the R2eSchool after the pandemic. We plan to grow this program into a permanent choice for our families. However, for the 2021-2022 school year and beyond, families in the program during 2020-2021 can choose to stay e-students or they may transfer their enrollment back to their zoned school.
The eLearning at the zoned/assigned school option allows parents to return to in-person instruction in Phases 2 and/or 3. Our schools will also provide the eLearning option throughout the school year/pandemic. We know this is necessary because parents may change their minds once the school year gets started and because the number of students that can be accepted in the R2eSchool program is limited. After the 2020-2021 school year and once Richland Two can fully return to normal operations after the pandemic, the district will no longer offer eLearning through students' zoned/assigned schools.
Students enrolled in school-based eLearning will have instructors from their zoned/assigned school. When the district is able to resume in-person instruction at schools based on guidance from S.C. DHEC, parents will be able to choose for students to remain in eLearning for the school year or participate in the instruction at the schools. Please see the phases for the reopening plan for information on options for in-person instruction.
Students enrolled in Richland Two’s eSchool will have highly qualified instructors assigned to the eSchool program who will instruct students during the 2020-2021 school year. If schools reopen, students will continue to be served through Richland Two’s eSchool program. This program may be most appealing to families who have significant medical concerns or who have been considering full time virtual charters schools or homeschooling options. The R2eSchool Program will not be offering special options like magnet programs. Another key difference is that the R2eSchool will be transitioning rapidly to a Competency Based system.
School based eLearning options and Richland Two’s eSchool will both offer virtual learning in new and improved ways — expanding on lessons learned in the spring of 2020 and professional development in the area of digital teaching and learning in the summer of 2020. You may access this link for information specific to Richland Two’s eSchool.
What’s the difference between eLearning now and eLearning in the spring?
Richland Two teachers have been busy this summer undergoing significant training and development in eLearning techniques and strategies. Students and parents can expect an effective and organized approach to new learning, assignments and assessments. Although delivered online, this will look and feel more like a structured school day. You can expect eLearning work to be focused on essential state standards and provided as both synchronous and asynchronous learning (see next question for more information). Schools will focus on necessary interventions and supports to ensure student learning and to address learning gaps. Additionally, the district is developing a website for parents to help them with the technology tools used for eLearning. For the first time, personal computing devices will be provided to kindergarten and first-grade students.
What is synchronous or asynchronous online learning?
Synchronous online learning refers to when a teacher and students are online in real time and participating in an instructional lesson together at the same time. Asynchronous learning occurs when students complete instructional lessons at different times and are not online together with the teacher at the same time. Both eLearning and the R2eSchool learning models will include opportunities for synchronous and asynchronous learning.
In-Person Instruction at the schools
Why isn’t there an option for middle and high school students to attend school five days a week?
Middle and high school students change classes multiple times a day. Middle and high schools offer numerous classes and no two students have the same schedule. In addition, physical distancing of three to six feet would be impossible in some district middle and high schools. For these reasons, the district cannot support a classroom community model for middle and high school students.
Will my child be able to keep their choice placement (magnet or expanded choice) if they enroll in R2eSchool for 2020-2021?
In most cases, yes. Students who enroll in the R2 eSchool Program, but were scheduled to attend a magnet program or school or expanded choice school for the 2020-2021 school year, may return to their assigned school for the 2021-2022 school year. Please note that magnet programs with a multi-year curriculum may have restrictions due to capacity and required coursework completion. For example, a student participating in the Discovery magnet at Spring Valley High School or the International Baccalaureate Program at Richland Northeast High School may be better served through the school based eLearning options which will include access to specialized magnet curriculum. You may access this link for information specific to Richland Two’s eSchool.
Health and Safety Precautions
What if my child has a fever before school?
Children with any of the following symptoms should be kept at home: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, new loss of taste or smell, muscle pain or soreness.
The practice of administering fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil/ Motrin) when a student wakes up with a fever and sending them off to school will not be tolerated, as it now may have life-threatening consequences to others. Students should remain home until they are symptom free and have been cleared by their physician to return based on the S.C. DHEC Childcare and School exclusion list: https://scdhec.gov/health/child-teen-health/school-exclusion
What happens if a child starts showing symptoms associated with COVID-19 during the school day?
For the management of suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, the district is following DHEC's interim COVID-19 guidance for schols. Click here to read the DHEC guidance for schools.
Does the district have a plan in place to clean and sanitze schools when students return?
The district’s custodial provider, Service Solutions (SSC), has developed a plan to ensure our schools are cleaned and sanitized frequently. The plan includes the district's purchase of an Electromatic Sprayer for each school (larger schools will have multiple sprayers). The district and SSC are working together to increase staffing at each school so that certain custodian staff can just focus on high touch points and sanitation throughout the day. The district will assist schools with purchasing disinfectant and towels for teachers and classrooms to use as well.
Will my child have to wear a mask to school?
S.C. DHEC recommends face coverings for all students and staff. If your child or an employee does not have a face covering, one will be provided to them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a cloth face covering will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants). Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.”
What steps are being taken to make sure there are enough soap and paper towels for students to wash their hands?
Richland Two in partnership with our custodial provider Service Solutions (SSC) has on stock and has been ordering soap and other supplies to make sure hand washing is available to all students and staff. District Maintenance staff have been working this summer checking all restrooms, sinks, soap dispensers, paper towel dispensers, and hand driers to make sure they are all working properly.
During the year, custodian will be checking restrooms and sinks throughout the day to refill soap, refill paper towels, and make sure sinks are working properly.
My child has an IEP. What’s the plan for these students?
Students with IEPs will follow the same plan as General Education peers except in the case of the hybrid model where students may attend school on an A/B schedule. In the hybrid model students who are served in certain specialized programs for students with IEPs will attend school four days per week instead of two. As we begin making announcements regarding which model will be used to reopen school, we will have more information about which students may have unique services based on their IEP.
Will there be social distancing on buses?
Yes, recommendations from S.C. Department of Education are to not exceed 50 percent capacity on our school buses “unless not feasible.” Our Transportation team is actively working on routes to determine if we need to adjust start times in order to get students to and from school in a timely manner. We are also working with school registrars to get as much pre-information on who needs transportation this year. In addition, the Transportation team is working with SCDE to make modifications to the bus to include hand sanitizer stations and plexiglass shields for the driver.
Buses will be cleaned and sanitized as frequently as possible. Each bus hub will be provided an Electromagnetic Sprayer. Transportation is actively recruiting and training as many bus drivers as possible so we can maximize our use of the state- and district-owned buses.
Is the district getting more buses to accomodate social distancing?
The State Department of Education owns and maintains the bus fleet, while school districts employ bus drivers. At this time, the state will not be giving us additional buses.
Will enrolling in the R2eSchool impact my child’s eligibility with the SCHSL?
For the 2020-2021school year, all student activities will be open to R2eschool Program students at your zoned or assigned school. For students who elect to remain in the R2eSchool Program for the 2021-2022 school year, sports participation sports participation may be allowed based on South Carolina High School League rules. Eligibility will be based upon the intra-district rule established by the South Carolina High School League and the district. For non-sport activities like theatre or student government, decisions would be made on a case by case basis.