Anderson School District One fairing well with face to face instruction, virtual learning

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During their meeting Tuesday, the Anderson School District One Board heard updates on the building program, COVID-19 and heard first reading on six board policies regarding sex/gender discrimination and harassment for students and employees.
Superintendent Robbie Binnicker reported that the school district is one of nineteen in the state that have face to face instruction. District One also has some students doing virtual learning.
Binnicker commended the board and staff for getting students back to school and face to face.
Binnicker said the district is posting daily numbers on positive cases of COVID related to the district. Three schools reported one positive case each yesterday he said. Since August 25, the district has had twenty students and eight staff members that have tested positive and required quarantine.
“We would love for that number to be zero,” Binnicker said. “We knew that coming back face to face we would have some cases of COVID.
He said the district percentage rate is .8 percent, which is lower than the general population percentage rate of 1.0 percent.
“You would assume we as a district would spread the virus more than the general public, but it is actually less.”
“We have been very fortunate,” he said. “The postive cases have been very mild.”
Binnicker said the district has not had any “hotspots”. “Our biggest fear is that we would have to shut down a classroom or school.”
Binnicker said there has only been one case that they believe came from a contact in District One.
He said there were two other probable cases where a student may have contracted the virus at school or sports practice.
Binnicker said the reasons he believes the positive cases numbers have been so low is that students and staff have done an excellent job of following protocols, parents are reminding students to social distance, wear masks and wash hands, and parents are keeping kids home if they are sick.
Binnicker said the biggest issue with COVID is a quarantine situation. He said the DHEC rule is that a person coming in contact with someone who is symptomatic is six feet or closer for fifteen minutes or more, then they must quarantine for 14 days. A person with a positive result can come back to school in ten days.
“The kid that is sick gets back before you do,” he said.
He said the district has had almost no students quarantined or symptomatic.
Binnicker said if a high school or middle school student does test positive or is quarantined, they can go immediately into virtual learning. He said the elementary schools do allow students to remove masks and there has not been any spread. He said the elementary schools also have smaller groups of students.
Finance Director Travis Thomas reported on the Local Option Sales Tax. District One received $636,000 for August and the LOST fund balance is just over $6 million.
The building fund currently has a balance of $57.3 million.
Jane Harrison updated the board on virtual learning under the COVID plan, showing various classroom photos of teachers with students learning online. Teachers meet students online at 8 am for learning, she said. Often parents are there though some students “lack the support to be successful in virtual learning.”
Harrison reported that more than 100 elementary school students came back to face to face learning this week.
She said the purchase of large monitors, document cameras, microphones and other equipment has made the virtual learning work.
“It is difficult and challenging,” Harrison said. “Every day there is something new, but there is much teaching and learning is going on.”
Binnicker also gave an update on the building program and the related financial status.
He told the board the bond referendum was approved eighteen months ago, and the district has almost completed $119 million of constructing and building contracts. “It is remarkable that much has been done in that short time.”
He said there is still furniture, roofing, network wiring and several other projects in construction contracts that will be pulled out. He said the District can do the work themselves and it will save money.

He said three projects are still on the books and will be evaluated in coming months.
Those include renovations at Palmetto and Wren High Schools and the Adult Education building.
He said the high school buildings will need to last the district at least twenty more years, at which point a new building referendum could be done.
The board held first reading on six board updated policies regarding sex/gender discrimination and harassment for students and employees.
Dr. Kelly Pew presented the six new policies which updated policies that have not been revised since 1997. “There have been so many changes, we decided to bring it all to you,” she said.
The changes bring the district up to current state and federal guidelines.
The board also decided to move the November meeting to November 17.