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Richmond County Public Schools will open on September 8.

Richmond County Public Schools will open September 8. “And we’re prepared and ready,” Superintendent Greg Smith told the Board of Supervisors.

To adhere to social distancing requirements, the school system has chosen to implement an alternating week schedule, where 50 percent of students report to school in a given week. The following week, that group will engage in distance learning and the other 50 percent will receive face-to-face instruction in classrooms.

RCPS is also offering a full-time distance education option for those students who don’t want to come to school. As of last week, there were about 300 students, or approximately 22 percent of the student body, enrolled in that program.

Smith said he was surprised by that number but felt better after learning that many of surrounding school districts have up to 50 percent or 60 percent of the students enrolled in full-time distance learning. He said he was pleased that 78 percent of RCPS families are excited to get students back into schools.

RCPS students will only report to school Monday through Thursday. Fridays will be used for deep cleaning and staff development. Teachers will be in their classrooms working, which will include connecting with the students who didn’t receive in-school instruction during that week and those students who need additional assistance.

Smith said that funding from the county will allow RCPS to continue its food program, and it will be offered to in-school and distance learners. 

Teachers are currently in schools undergoing a three-week training program that focuses on distance learning, synchronous learning, and asynchronous learning.

“[The pandemic] has caused us to look at ourselves and self-assess and ask why we do the things we do,” said Smith. “Now every decision that you make has a consequence,” he said. “And that has made the school system ask questions, such as why are we pursuing this? How is it going to benefit children? Is this something we really want to do? And what is the ultimate benefit we’re going to receive?”

Addressing those questions is driving RCPS to make the programs that they offer the best they can possibly be. “Ultimately, we will be a better school system because of these trials and tribulations that we’re going through. I can assure you that,” Smith told the board.