With 13 students and three district employees currently testing positive for Coronavirus, the Fort Mill School District isn’t ready for a full return to face-to-face learning at middle and high school students.

At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Chuck Epps said the decision to return to full face-to-face instruction will be made by the district administration, not the school board. And it will be based on data in consultation with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

“We know students need to be back in school. Everybody wants them back because the time they are away is clearly not as good as 100 percent here,” Dr. Epps said. “But it has to be done in a healthy manner. So those two goals have to meet. As to when they meet, it depends on our individual data. … No decision tonight.”

Once a decision has been reached, a timeline and plan for instruction will be released to the public, the superintendent said. In addition, any large increase in COVID-19 cases could lead to an opposite decision to close schools and go virtually, if needed. “If we have an outbreak – and it can happen quickly – we may have to shift quickly,” he said.

Elementary students returned to full face-to-face learning on Sept. 28 under the family model and the district continues to monitor COVID-19 case counts for any possible issues with the return.

For the latest data on coronavirus among students and staff, click here to access the district’s dashboard, which is updated each Friday. It has not been updated this week to reflect the additional students since last Friday’s count of eight students and three staff members.

“Grant us grace,” the superintendent said, in conclusion. “We are trying to consider everything.  I beg the teachers and the public to please know we want to go back. We want to go back safely. Those two goals have to meet.”

In other news from Tuesday’s meeting:

Recognition of 25 Year Longevity Award Recipients: Several Fort Mill School District staff members were recognized for serving the district for 25 years. Those recognized included: Mary Ellen Bales – PowerSchool Clerk at Orchard Park Elementary, Gwen Hoyle – Cafeteria Manager at Pleasant Knoll Middle, Flo Ramsey – PE/Health Teacher at Springfield Middle and Darren Wilson – Assistant Principal at Catawba Ridge High.

Fort Mill Schools Superintendent Chuck Epps, right, recognizes an employee during Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

Recognition of Early Literacy Professional Development Class and Reading Recovery Teachers for 2019–2020: The board recognized teachers who completed the Early Literacy Professional Development offered in conjunction with Clemson University and the Reading Recovery Teachers for 2019–2020. 

Monthly Financial/Impact Fee Update: Mrs. Leanne Lordo presented the Monthly Financial and Impact Fee update to the board. The information shared is linked below. She also shared that the district will receive requested PPE and desk shields from the state.

August Financials

September Impact Fees Collected

Here is a link to video of the full board meeting. Dr. Epps begins his update on Coronavirus and a return to school at about 49:30: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6Psr183ePk&t=3084s

Greg Rickabaugh

Greg "Ricky Bobby" Rickabaugh has lived in the Fort Mill and York County community since 2006. He has covered the area while a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and a freelance writer for The Fort Mill...