School Reopening Updates

School Reopening Updates
Posted on 07/09/2020
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Please click here to view a July 9 letter to parents from our Superintendent, Dr. Danny Merck, concerning our reopening plans!

The following information was sent to parents on June 29:

SDPC has been working to finalize our school reopening plan in light of the latest information from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental control and guidance from the S.C. Department of Education.


We have created four infographics that we hope will help you better understand the options we are considering for reopening. Please review these carefully:


DHEC Categories for COVID-19 Spread

Reopening Scenarios

SDPC Safety Procedures

Scheduling Impact on Student Contacts


Based on current DHEC guidelines, Pickens County is considered a "High Spread" area. SDPC has plans in place for how to operate under Low Spread and High Spread conditions, but we welcome your feedback regarding our plan for Medium Spread conditions.


Please review the DHEC Guidance, our Safety Procedures, and our Reopening Scenarios, then give us your feedback through the following survey:


2020-2021 Fall Reopening: Feedback on "Medium" Spread Level Reopening Plan


The survey will remain open until Saturday, July 4. Thank you for working with us as we try to ensure a safe reopening on August 10!


The following information was sent to parents on June 25:

The School District of Pickens County plans to re-open schools for in-person instruction as scheduled on August 10. While our goal for the coming year is to provide face-to-face instruction whenever possible, doing so will only be possible if cases of COVID-19 decline significantly between now and August.

School in our district will resume under three scenarios:

  • Low Risk - Return to face-to-face instruction with safety precautions.

  • Medium Risk - Face-to-face instruction as possible; Intermittent virtual instruction on a week-by-week, school-by-school basis as needed.

  • High Risk - All virtual instruction for all students.

Based on the definition of “High Risk” released by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today, Pickens County currently falls in the “High Risk” category. Responsible actions by our community, including social distancing, mask-wearing, and frequent hand-washing are necessary for cases to decrease enough for students to return to school.

If we are able to return to in-person instruction, the school year will inevitably look different. We invite each of you to go on this journey with us. We expect to tweak our organizational practices to continuously improve throughout the year. Please carefully review the information below as we prepare to return for the 2020-2021 school year.

While we hoped to release our completed safety plan today, we need some time to review our plan in light of today’s information from DHEC. Thank you for your patience as we work to release our detailed return plan next week. In the meantime, information on several key topics is provided below.

Daily Start and Dismissal Times and Bus Adjustments:

  • Elementary – 8:00 a.m.-- 2:30 p.m. 

  • Middle – 8:30 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.

  • High – 8:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. 

As announced last year, SDPC will separate elementary bus routes from our middle and high school routes for the vast majority of students next year. In response to state restrictions on bus capacity due to COVID-19, our high school start and dismissal times will be pushed later to accommodate additional routes. School-specific adjustments to the schedule may be needed, and we will coordinate with schools about specific directions closer to August. Some student groups may dismiss earlier/later than others to prevent exposure.

“4x4” High School Schedule:

Instead of an A/B Day Schedule, SDPC high schools will shift to a “4x4” block schedule next year in order to reduce the number of weekly in-person contacts between students and teachers. On a traditional A/B schedule, a typical student would share a classroom with approximately 200 other students per week. On a 4x4 block schedule, a typical student shares a classroom with approximately 100 students per week. Likewise, an average teacher will be face-to-face with approximately 150 students per week on an A/B schedule, and only 75 students per week on a 4x4 schedule. This change has a significant impact on our ability to perform contact tracing among students in case of a case of COVID-19.

Academically, the schedule change reduces the number of classes students may take at once, which may reduce the challenge of completing work during virtual classes. For most teachers, the change reduces the number of class preps at any given time.

Pickens County Virtual Academy

We are expanding our virtual program to accommodate students who may not be ready to return to face-to-face instruction due to coronavirus concerns and to continue to serve students of all ages who have found online learning to be a good fit during the pandemic.

SDPC will schedule information online meetings for elementary, middle, and high school students and their families at the following times:

  • July 7 - High School Programs at 6:00 p.m.

  • July 7 -- Middle School Programs at 7:30 p.m.

  • July 9 - Elementary School Programs at 6:00 p.m.

We plan to expand our 1:1 technology initiative to students in all grades next year, and students in our virtual program will be provided with a school device.


If you are interested in participating in our online meetings or want to receive more information and updates regarding Pickens County Virtual Academy, please click here!