South Carolina Governor's Update on South Carolina Schools (COVID-19) | April 22, 2020

and after that we just put them in the

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he has it I was gonna go get it when

after this was done so I'll have that

one with me today this afternoon

radios good okay so I'll have a card

when I when I get to the Alumni Center

yeah I know I'm glad you did because I'd

already forgotten what you forget the

day I walk okay down

thank you for coming again we have

signing today Josie McDaniel Burkett and

Holly May and we appreciate it very much

superintendent Spearman is here with me

today to make an announcement about the

public schools K through 12 as you know

by executive order early we've closed

those schools for a number of weeks and

the decision we have made after much

consultation with with a comprehensive

group of people including parents and

teachers administrators health experts

and otherwise we will have decided not

to reopen the schools for the rest of

the school year so the schools will

remain closed for the rest of the school

year and when I issue that order which

will be next week it will provide a

number of things and one of them is

flexibility for the districts and for

the superintendent and others involve

the teachers to allow for special needs

classes for children perhaps some summer

teaching of some kind and other

flexibilities where that will allow them

to do things that they that they do need

to do and we will all that also don't

present a threat that opening the

schools back would do also we will

encourage the school districts and the

schools and the principals and the

teachers and the parents and all

involved to find ways to have graduation

ceremonies we've heard of a lot of

imaginative innovative plans we know

that as a part of American life is

something very important to families and

students as well who want to walk at

their graduation we understand that we

think it is very important so we will

find ways that that can be accomplished

and we know that's on everyone's mind

say a couple of things want to thank the

the parents the teachers have have done

a marvelous job

superintendent Speer

we'll address some of those in a moment

but it has been remarkable to see the

effort that has been made the highly

successful effort I've never seen

anything quite like it to see that all

of our students or have educational

advantages and opportunities at home

we've delivered a lot of computers or

tablets a lot of distance learning a lot

of thought a lot of effort went into it

and the meal delivered to those children

who have accustomed to getting that into

schools has continued uninterrupted with

just a little little bottleneck here and

there but it has been remarkable and I

think the superintendent under her

leadership with all of those involved

across the state have delivered millions

of meals somewhere between four and five

million regular meals and that service

will continue as it always does during

the summer months I want to particularly

thank the teachers the administrators

the superintendent's these the staffs in

the cafeteria the custodial and others

who have done a remarkable job on taking

care of the schools and the children and

particularly want to thank the parents

who have so many of them or thought they

were through homeschooling their their

children who've learned that they will

back into it

we know it's been difficult we know

particularly with the hundreds of

thousands of people out of work and the

children all at home at times when it

was not expected that this has been a

hardship and a challenge on many many

people in our state and I want to thank

them and congratulate them for the grand

job and the perseverance and the

discipline in the understanding they're

showing I imagine they're some that are

more educated than they were when they

started because they've had to go back

and teach the children things that

they'd forgotten about over the years so

to the parents we say thank you parents

and guardians and all those that look

out for our next generations that is our


which are the most important assets that

we have so again the schools will not

reopen but there will be flexibility

statewide for ideas for the taking care

of those who need special needs

instruction and other perhaps some of

reading camps things of that nature and

again we want to be sure that we have

graduation ceremonies for those young

people and their families well good

morning everyone and governor I want to

thank you for making this very difficult

decision but you have made the right


the schools are the backbone of the

community and when they're closed all of

us hurt the children want to go to

school parents want them to go to school

teachers want to be there with their

children and we want to see them growing

and learning but in this very historic

pandemic we have been able to carry on a

really good instruction I had a call a

few days ago with over 4,000 teachers

and over 80% of them said they were very

very pleased at how the instruction was

going we do have a few children who are

struggling some families that we've not

been able to work with so as through

this method I'd like to ask you to

please reach out to us for whatever

reason if it's that you're ill or you

don't understand the work please contact

your school and your teachers so that we

can work together to make sure that all

students are moving forward our

buildings will not open for the rest of

the year but instruction will continue

to go on

so as the governor said we've got to

keep our partnership between teachers

and families going really well and thank

you so much parents for supporting us

through this we're going to continue to

support you with good old common sense

policies the order that the governor the

information the governor will give will

allow school districts and flexibility

during their last two weeks of school

their regular calendar year they will be

able to close out their workings and

normal things that they would do and

with social distancing if their

operations that they can handle with on

continuing good social distancing


a parent-teacher conference if both

agree to do it and face face to face

they can do that so districts will have

a great deal of flexibility and how they

will operate for those last two weeks as

well as graduation ceremonies seniors

I've heard from you I've gotten some

very articulate heart-wrenching begs and

please to let us have graduation

ceremony the governor absolutely want

that to happen I can tell you that your

district leaders have sent us some very

creative ideas of how they're planning

on handling graduation and we want those

to go out and I hope that perhaps I can

even come and be there and attend and

see some of those from a distance

happening so we're so proud of the hard

work you deserve a graduation ceremony

and we want that to happen for you we

have served over five million meals as

of today not only have they been

prepared but they have been delivered so

a special thank you to our cafeteria

workers bus drivers and all those others

sometimes teachers principals riding the

bus to help to deliver those meals we

want that to continue and it will with

all the good work that we have going on

in our school buildings the flexibility

to pick up your materials I know many of

you students have your materials your

personal belongings in your classrooms

you'll be working with your district

officials your superintendents your

principals in a very organized way - for

you to be able to come and pick those up

I would like to say that we do need some

really good creative minds to come

together as we think about the future

how are we going to operate our summer

reading camps this summer we want those

to go on for our elementary students

some are reading and math support for

those who need it we are working on a

virtual platform if that is how we have

to do that but even going forward to

thinking about August and how school

will be able to open I plan to announce

a task force in the next few days of

creative educational minds across the

state and healthcare leaders to help us

organize how we can carry out school and

August so it has been a burden it's been

sad to see schools closed but it has

been a joy to see how everyone has

pulled together and worked together on

this for the good of our children and

that will remain our top priority the

safety and the learning of our students

as I've said to parents on a couple

times I know this has been stressful and

I know that even after just two weeks of

Christmas vacation you're ready to send

your kids back to school but I thank you

for what you're doing and I would say

again while instruction is really

important the most important thing for

you as parents is to look out for the

fiscal and the emotional health of your

family so take care of yourself and your

family and do the best you can with the

instruction in the time that you have

together thank you we may have parents

who have to stay home and watch their

children because they don't have that

childcare option now those are the kind

of things that the group we've put

together a representative group of

virtually every aspect of South

Carolina's life to to accelerate the

revitalization of those buildings the

businesses those are the kinds of

questions and ideas that are going to be

addressed and starting at four o'clock

tomorrow as I mentioned we've no two

o'clock tomorrow at the Alumni Center at

the University factor we were over there

setting up for that now it's why we're

doing this a little little bit early but

those are the kind of questions and

answers and innovative ideas that we

expect to come forward and the group

that superintendent Spearman course

superintendent Spearman will be will be

participating but and we have educators

represented in that group who will be

eager to hear from the the group that

she just mentioned to have ideas yes


struggles or challenges as certain

children have been experiencing can you

delve deeper into what those challenges

well first of all I think the digital

divide in South Carolina has become very

apparent there are some districts that

have been able to carry on their

instruction with the teacher

communicating through Xoom meetings

WebEx meetings whatever with their

classmates and really haven't missed a

beat others have done a blended some of

that and then some have relied totally

on pencil and paper we have we have seen

that divide speak out because in some

counties Allendale for instance all

Winnsboro are the Fairfield County even

here in Richland County well actually

we're in Lexington County I guess but in

portions of the Midlands there are still

areas that families do not have access

to the internet so that makes it more

difficult so that is certainly a

struggle for families we tried to

provide services for them that the

providers have stepped up to the plate

to offer discounted services we're

working with meetings with our coops all

of that to improve on this but that's

something that we can't just do as

educators that's something that

accelerates South Carolina I think will

hear loud and clear tomorrow at their

meeting and then there are other

children who just don't do well

virtually there's some people who thrive

in a virtual environment others really

need that relationship and so for those

students we need to get them back

together with one-on-one with a teacher

as soon as possible absolutely and we

have been able to meet the need for the

requests that we've gotten

we have sent those buses with wi-fi's to

those areas and can do more if there is

a need that a district would let us know

yes ma'am

we are asking the district's to continue

instruction to their regular day some we

have 10 districts in the state that

finish on May 29 the other 70 are in

during that next first week or maybe

that firt next Monday in June so

whenever they're regulars kept on

calendar they need to continue their

work and their clothes out until then

well one thing is they need to pick up

material so we've got a lot of materials

that students have at home that books

textbooks that need to be returned

cleaned so that we can get ready for the

next year some of their personal

belongings are at school so that will be

one of the main things that need to

happen on there's some one-on-one

assessments that we do with children

that we may be able to carry those out

but we want to lead the flexibility to

the district for that and that

partnership with the parent if they feel

comfortable that they could carry out

some of those ones called a doll doll

are for four-year-olds where we assess

so there they're different types of

things certainly students with

disabilities who really need it could be

a health occupation session it could be

some kind of assessment that they would

need to do for their individual

education plan their IEP but again we

want to give that flexibility we're not

forcing folks to say you have to do it

one certain way but they have the

flexibility to carry it out in the

safest way possible yes do you have any

guidance for summer camps or summer

programs and you have a sense of what

percentage of students or families

haven't been able to really participate

fully in education in this pandemic

setting I would say that as far as I'll

take the last part first what percentage

I don't have the exact number so this

would be a guess at it but I believe

that just knowing from our how many

districts were able to implement a full

technology plan we had 19 of those that

they went straight all technology we had

about another 20 or so that did a

blended planned so that least 2024 TX in

who had

rely on pencil and paper so somewhere

around 20 25 percent of our districts

not we're not able on to carry out their

instruction through technology but we

will be able to give you those exact

numbers and then the first part of your

question we're working right now

many children had already been invited

to attend what we call our third grade

summer reading camp by law those are

children who are not on grade level so

most of them had already been notified

that they needed to go there may be

additional students now that not only

need help in reading but in mathematics

so yes we are working on guidelines for

that it's going to take some extra

funding we're looking at using some of

our cares act funding to help support

that system and how many children it

would take on how many turtle we might

be able to involve in that that's gonna

be left up to the school districts we're

also we're also working right now on a

virtual model in case we're not able to

do that face to face that we would be

able to provide some type of remediation

in reading and mathematics for

elementary students virtually kids where

families may send them for enrichment

again I think those additional type

summer camps we're gonna have to look at

that beer carefully I think that might

be something that accelerates South

Carolina would need to look at and

certainly the governor will have to make

that decision of it when when are we

going to allow those type settings all

so he'll have another difficult decision

to make

yes ma'am we've sent out quite a bit of

guidance and all of that is on our

website if any parent or teacher needs

to go and look at it but all of that is

on our website at EDD SC gov slash koban

19 on the Maine guidance that we sent

out our first priority was making sure

that seniors could graduate so we call

it credit bearing courses any of those

courses that are you normally taken in

high school there are a few students who

may take some credit bearing courses

when they're in middle school so we did

send out

- that all of those that grading should

continue and should continue as normal

but with a good old dose of common sense

you know if a student has not done well

during this time they've been trying

turning in their work but they've not

really done as well as they normally

would in a one to one with a teacher

there should be a good dose of common

sense but we have not given anything out

to say you know no grade lower than then

a certain number we have not given that

guy nits that depends on the local

school district we have said though that

instead of 1/3 weeks third nine weeks

grade and a fourth nine weeks grade that

it would be blended together in a

semester grade much like they do in

higher ed that there would be one grade

for this third nine weeks and fourth

nine weeks that would be entered into

our power school the other grading for

kindergarten through eighth grade goes

on as normal just like the districts do

we do not dictate how that is done from

the state level well I think it's it's

more about a lot of teacher observation

are they able to read and comprehend and

tell you back the story there are lots

of ways to do it and I think the the

feedback teachers are able to

communicate with their students through

these WebEx meetings through online

assignments they're looking at those

through the paper and pencil assignments

that are coming back in many of our

younger children they are graded on a

satisfactory unsatisfactory it's not as

detailed as a credit bearing course so

it's a little easier to do that we have

areas that were hit by tornadoes and

severe weather obviously last week how

are you guys going to be working with

those districts to make sure those

students can complete this the school

year well we've been in close contact or

unfortunately there are children who

don't have a school to go to nor have a

home so the emotional trauma is much

more important to deal with that right

now than to worry about their

instruction so in those areas that's

what I'm saying to folks now you've got

to deal with the emotion

trauma will help children catch up we

are already working on guidelines and

we'll be doing some training for

teachers this summer virtually for what

will we do with instruction for those

first couple weeks how will we

remediates s the students very quickly

and remediate them so in those

particular areas up in Seneca County

County down in Hampton constant where

there was a huge hit there will be extra

support there and extra concern because

they really have had an awful lot to

deal with and you know reading probably

it's not on their mind right now it's

about getting warm clothes in a house to

live in and that's what they should be

working on coming weeks is the plan as

of right now perhaps to maybe open up

the school doors for this August or we

would love to absolutely we hope that

we'll be prepared and ready to go but

you know that the answer to that

question will have to be made as we get

a little closer and to see how healthy

everybody is and how our system is going

but absolutely we're going to be working

toward that how can we do it though in a

very safe way our school buses carry 78

students and we set 3 to a seat and our

classroom size typically is 800 square

feet and you have 24 kids in the

classroom how can the only way to

maintain social distancing is people be

standing in the corners so we're gonna

have to really look at this and maybe

make some significant changes on how we

have been the regular school day I'm not

prepared to say what those would be at

this point but that's what I need a

group to come together who really work

in the trenches to help us to come up

with some ideas

the first couple of weeks could be

remediation so instead of third grade

teacher essentially be teaching second

grade material possibly possibly what

we've been looking at or what are those

super standards they're standards that

students need to achieve but then

there's some that are probably more

important than others those foundational

standards and that's what our group has

already been working on internally with

some teacher input and principal input

and then we will look at assessing but a

good teacher does this already a good

teachers know how to do this they know

how to assess their children at the

beginning of the year and to see where

everybody is and start teaching their

personalized learning to those students

to help catch them up so I know we're

all real concerned about it I feel very

optimistic I think our students and our

teachers are up to the challenge and we

can catch them up we may need a few

extra days of instruction and again we

can spend our cares act funding on that

to add a few extra days to next school

year but I believe our children will

survive this and we're all going to come

out stronger it's going to be the money

there are 12 different areas and again

this is on our website there are 12

areas that districts have flexibility to

spend their education Stabilization Fund

of the cares Act it includes technology

it includes the emotional support that I

think we're really going to need to use

it can be additional instructional days

it can pay for cleaning of the buildings

which is going to be a huge cost for us

to look at when we start going back so

there it's very broad I will say the US

Department of Education has done an

excellent job responding to us and a lot

of good common sense in what they've

sent out on this funding well we

encourage everyone to practice social

distancing even in sports but there are

a lot of ways to get a lot of good

exercise into practice for sports and

still observe that social distance

single but we are hoping that the the

virus will be

easing up on us by then we are watching

it very closely as you know and we'll

have announcements to make as we go

forward as to what we see and what we

recommend yesterday work master does

this order will it affect the summer

school but include summer school being


well summer school be closed not

necessarily uh we'll have to look at it

as we get closer some school is usually

held in June we could push that back to


it could even be just a few weeks right

before school starts normally in August

so that decision we'll just have to look

at is it possible to hold it

face-to-face if not we will be prepared

with a virtual platform governor more

have you made a decision on when and

whether you're in close contact

businesses decision on when we

restricted it had close contact like the

barbershops and beauty parlors and and

those those kinds of things we are we

have not made a decision we're in the

process of gathering the information

getting the facts getting the science

and taking the measurements we follow

the old carpenters rule which is measure

twice and cut once and we don't want to

make any mistakes and as you know we've

we went into the virus very carefully in

a deliberate manner and I think that we

we did it as well a better in any any

state in the country as the results or I

believe all are showing it we want to

come back out the same way and

revitalize our economy so that we can

regain our competitive position with

their with the rest of the country and

particularly in the southeast so those

those decisions will be made and will be

announced and we're working on it

working on it right now that is as well

as everything all the businesses that we

have a districted restricted any way of

being analyzed and studied based on the

facts and the data will make those

decisions yes ma'am

we expect there to be any teacher or

staff layoffs perhaps in the next

upcoming weeks as well as just

confirming in the e-learning classes

will they be ending on May 15 okay the

e-learning would normally take place

until whenever that district is is ready

to finish out their regular calendar

year there are some states who have

closed down all learning we did not

think that was a good idea in South

Carolina so I really I want to say too I

appreciate how well our school districts

we have really stayed together as a unit

and everybody has performed really well

I was on the phone yesterday with some

folks who deal across the nation with

other states and they really

complimented South Carolina's how

well-prepared and how quickly we put

this in to order and your second part

you know hopefully not our teachers have

been paid with throughout this time or

the districts obviously I think anyone

would recognize that revenue tax revenue

will be down and we're waiting on the

General Assembly to pass that continuing

resolution which will help us with our

budgets and starting up the year and

then they you know it that will depend

on what the revenue is and what the

General Assembly does with the school

budget when they come back into session

next fall and know more about what the

revenue has been I think every

precaution would be taken to keep as

many of our folks we need these

instructional folks working so that

decision would be made later by the

General Assembly

going back to the sports question maybe

this is for you super intense memory for

those sports and extra curricular

these that start over the summer what is

the guidance for that for instance

football practices and band practices or

you know cheerleading things that

started before the school year starts

well we'll have to work very closely

with the governor and our health

officials to know if it's safe normally

the rule in South Carolina working with

the South Carolina high school league is

if school is in session

then sports can go on obviously this is

a little different situation but we'll

be working very very closely to see what

the health of our people are the health

of our communities over the summer and

that would be a decision that the

governor could certainly take to end

that but again we're just going to have

to get a little closer to see how well

everyone's doing and if school is going

to be able to open physically or in

August then I would say it's a good

chance that those practices could resume

but we'll have to get a little closer

everything we're doing is based on a lot

of information analysis of the people in

the area the professionals that would

include of course our DHEC in the terms

of businesses that would be Labor

Licensing and Regulation those

organizations and agencies that have

insight a Coast Park Recreation and

tourism and Duane Parish and all of

those were taken all of these facts

information and professional advice from

from every source that we have to make

these decisions yes ma'am obviously that

changed can you address when and whether

all subjects all standards should at

least be attempted to be covered this

year sure that's a really good question

we've learned a lot as we've gone

through this I don't think any of us

ever foresaw that we would be out this

long so our original direction to

teachers and to districts was that no

new information would be taught it would

be you know reflecting and repetitive on

work so that changed very quickly and we

also have changed the guidance to make

it a little more reasonable

sending homework for two or three days

is different from sending homework for

12 weeks

and we realize honestly that we were

sending too much and we needed to ease

up a bit to relax the stress on families

and give students time to think about

what they were learning rather than so

much work so we have that guidance is

now on the website and I think that

again teachers know what the most

foundational standards are that need to

be taught and that is what they've tried

to address now some of them have been

able to go forward with hopefully all of

the standards but I can't say that until

we really review with everyone but

certainly folks are focused on those

foundational standards that children

would need to accomplish in order to be

able to go to the next grade that's a

question that I've gotten from a lot of

children am I gonna make my grade and I

remember when I was in school I you know

I made pretty good grades and I would

still be worried about am I gonna make

my break yes you're gonna make your


unless there's just an extraordinary

circumstance where you are really far

behind and your parents should already

have been talking with your teacher

about that so children will be able to

go to the next grade but our

instructions will be for that teacher to

work with the previous year's teacher to

really be sure that we remediating cover

make sure and assess where students are

don't have an exact number there have

been a handful across the state we have

worked very closely with DHEC and

followed their protocol as to how that

should be handled but I don't have the

exact number of perhaps we could get

that for you but I don't have that we

appreciate you coming very much and yes

I want to say again we appreciate that

the parents the the diligence and the

distress a lot of parents under as well

as students the great jobs been done by

the teachers and all the district

personnel everyone working together to

seeing this educational is most

important critical education arena that

we are we all still make in progress and

as I look around South Carolina and I

see the

progress we're making in the

determination of the people reminds me a

quote from the great boxer champion

Muhammad Ali when a young fella asked

him one time said champ

didn't you get knocked down one time by

either George Foreman or Joe Frazier or

somebody and he said son I mean I'm

never down I mean the UH I'm getting up

and so that's what we're doing we're not

down we're we're getting up and we're

going back to the top in our accelerated

s-see is designed to do that to

revitalize their cat the economy and if

we can keep educating the children then

we will go right straight to the top

thank you