Back-To-School in the Midlands

School desks | Photo via @educationsc

Students, parents and teachers all have questions about what this school year will bring. 2020 has been unprecedented to say the least, so we did some digging to help break down the plans of school districts in the Midlands.

What we can all plan for is another year of learning + growing no matter if students are in person or virtual. 

The first day of school will look different this year. So let’s take a look at what we know.

Who said what? 

🗣️Gov. Henry McMaster spoke about reopening schools at the State House on July 15.  McMaster called for all schools to reopen in the fall and for school districts to allow parents to decide between five days a week in the classroom or virtual learning. The governor also recommended that schools wait to reopen until Sept. 8 in order to allow more time to finalize reopenings. 

🗣️SC Education Superintendent Molly Spearman agreed with McMaster that it is important to reopen schools. However, she said the decision of when to open should happen at the local level and should take into account community infection rates. More information on guidelines about back to school have been recommended by Accelerate ED. The full report can be found here

🗣️ SC for ED supports districts following DHEC guidelines based on what’s happening in local communities. The organization supports virtual options until the number of positive cases reduces. 

🗣️Palmetto State Teachers Association agrees that reopening decisions should be based on virus data and said that it could be potentially dangerous to reopen schools if health conditions do not improve. 

🗣️ The CDC announced on July 23 that it has updated its guidelines to recommend that schools reopen in the fall. 

What are the districts doing? 

🍎 Richland One  

Start Date: Aug. 31

Method: Virtual for the first four weeks

Richland County School District One is providing two options for students to go back to school with all students beginning the school year online. The #RestartStrong task force has recommended the first option will be entirely online the whole school year through the virtual school program. The alternative is a phased attendance option where students will begin online and slowly return to a classroom setting later in the year when the risk reduces from high to medium. School representatives will continue to update the #RestartStrong information here as the start date gets closer. 

🍎 Richland Two

Start Date: Aug. 31

Method: Virtual 

Richland School District Two announced that phase one for its schools will include students beginning the school year virtually. If the new calendar is approved, by the board at the meeting on Tuesday, July 28, the school year will begin on Aug. 31. In the first phase, students can choose between virtual options available at their school or the R2ESchools Virtual Program, which was designed for families + children with underlying health concerns. The e-learning option includes a physical component – every school will pre-determine a space for students to complete their virtual work.  An online form has been sent to parents to select the learning model for their student during the different phases of the plan.

When COVID-19 cases begin to decrease, the district has planned for five-day-week learning for elementary school students. These students would stay in the same small groups throughout the day. For middle and high school students, this phase would include a hybrid learning style with students being in the classroom for two days and online for three. The district will continue to make e-learning available to those who wish to remain at home. 

🍎 Lexington-Richland 5 School District 

Start Date: Sept. 8 

Method: Hybrid + virtual 

Lexington-Richland School District Five announced that the hybrid model will blend face-to-face instruction and distance learning with students attending school in-person two days a week and learning virtually for three days. District officials said students will be assigned to one of two ‘cohorts’ and that parents and guardians with multiple students will have the ability to request that all of their children be placed in the same cohort. 

The district will provide face coverings to all staff and any student who cannot provide their own. Masks are required while entering, exiting and moving throughout the building and during any congregant interaction inside and outside the classroom. Masks may be removed when students are seated at their work spaces. 

🍎 Lexington One

Start Date: Aug. 31

Method: Hybrid + virtual  

School officials have announced that during the first four weeks of school, through Friday, Sept. 25, the district will use a hybrid AA/BB instructional model. The goal at the end of the four weeks is to shift to five days of instruction, if possible. 

Students will be assigned to either the AA group or the BB group. AA students will attend school in-person on Monday + Tuesday andBB students will attend in-person on Wednesday + Thursday. Students will participate in e-learning the remaining days, with all students e-learning on Fridays.

All staff and students will wear face coverings when riding a bus, arriving at or leaving a school, changing classes, gathering in common areas, sitting in class, or at any other time when they cannot practice social distancing. Students and staff will not share supplies.

🍎 Lexington Two

Start Date: Sept. 8

Method: Hybrid + virtual 

To allow for a small class size, schools will start out with a hybrid learning model. Students can expect to be in the classroom two days in-person and three days online. District representatives have said that if COVID-19 numbers are reduced, the district would move to implement a five-day, in-person learning plan while maintaining a virtual option. Click here to sign up for the district’s Online Academy by Aug. 1

🍎 Lexington Three

Start Date: Staggered start week of Aug. 31 – Sept. 4 

Method: Hybrid + virtual 

Bus riders should complete this Transportation Request Form by Aug. 6. Parents of K4 + K5 students who require bus transportation will also need to complete and return the Parent Drop-off Permission Form. All bus riders will have assigned seating and must stay in assigned seats, no rider is allowed to sit in the first two seats, masks are required for students and drivers and all buses will ride at 46% capacity with one student on each seat. The only exception is students from the same household may sit together, with two allowed per seat. 

Primary + Elementary 

  • Lunch in the classrooms
  • Not required to wear masks 
  • Option of in-person five days a week

Middle + High School 

  • Meal service plans available here 
  • Masks required while switching classrooms
  • Hybrid + virtual options available  

🍎 Lexington Four 

Start Date: Aug. 17

Method: Hybrid + virtual 

Plans are in place to reopen schools with options for 4K-12 students with a combination of online and hybrid learning models. The hybrid model will include two days per week with in-person, small group instruction. Group A, the purple group, will meet on Monday and Wednesday then Group B, the gold group, will meet on Tuesday and Thursday. 

All staff will wear masks around students + students third grade and up will wear masks at all times. Students can expect to eat meals in the classroom and those in need can take prepared meals home for virtual days


Back to school shopping may be more difficult to complete this year. Most teachers create their own lists specific to the needs of their classrooms. Reach out to your child’s teacher to see what that list includes + be prepared for extra cleaning supplies this year. To ensure your student is prepared for a hybrid model, plan to have a set of school supplies for home + for the classroom. As an added precaution if you want to grab a few reusable masks for your student, check out these masks for kids

Organizations providing support

✏️ Salvation Army – Operation: School Supplies 

The Operation: School Supplies program collects and distributes supplies that students need to start the school year with confidence. This program assisted 481 children in 2019. If you or someone you know is in need of supplies, the deadline to register for support is July 29, with distribution on Aug. 16. Applications are available at 3024 Farrow Rd. Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

If you would like to donate to the program, as an individual or part of a group, contact this email or call 803-309-3244. School supplies and backpacks are being accepted through Monday, Aug. 3. 

✏️ City of West Columbia Back-2-School Giveaway 

The City of West Columbia has partnered with the West Columbia Police Department, located at 200 North 12th St., West Columbia, the West Columbia Fire Department, located at 610 North 12th St., West Columbia, 12 Springs Community Church and Brookland United Methodist Church, located at 541 Meeting St., West Columbia to host a Back-2-School Giveaway on Aug. 22 from 2-6 p.m. To support this giveaway, donations of new school supplies are being accepted until Aug. 21 at the addresses included above. For contactless donation options, contact the police department.

The giveaway event will be held in the parking lot of Brookland United Methodist Church from 2-6 p.m. on Aug. 22. School supplies will be handed out in a drive-thru to promote social distancing. The first 500 students will receive a book bag and school supplies. The child must be present to receive the supplies.

✏️ Communities in Schools  

The community nonprofit is accepting donations, starting at $50, to purchase school supplies, clothing, and other supplies. The organization has partnered with Lexington School District Two and Richland School District One. Donations can be made at this website