Laurens District 55’s board of trustees met Wednesday night to discuss their plan on returning to school.  

As the meeting began, the discussion centered around the purpose of the meeting and changing the agenda so action could be taken. 

Board member Cathy Little asked if they could add a vote to the agenda so Superintendent Dr. Ameca Thomas could act on which phase the district is in.

Little claims that the notice to the public about the district plans were unacceptable to some.

Susan Calhoun-Ware asked what information was unacceptable and who it was unacceptable for, stating that Dr. Thomas is as transparent as she can be. She said that the board is responsible for supervising the superintendent, approving the budget and setting policy. She said that Thomas is the CEO of the district and makes the decision on how the district handles instruction during the pandemic. 

After a discussion on policies and whether the agenda could be altered in a special called meeting, Calhoun-Ware made a motion to approve the agenda as printed. Little seconded the motion so discussion about the plan to return to school could be discussed.

Little brought to the board’s attention that during the summer they voted to add the red phase, E-Learning, to the return to school plan and then in Sept. voted to remove the red phase.

Dr. Thomas explained that though they are doing E-Learning currently, they have not implemented the red phase. She is operating under policy EBC-E that says the superintendent can close the schools for emergency purposes such as bad weather.

Little said those policies should be updated because they are written for inclement weather not for a pandemic. The red phase was created for the pandemic.

Little discussed a post she made on Facebook, asking what people thought the district should do. She had 56 responses with 27 of them supporting E-Learning.

Many members voiced their concern for the faculty and staff as well as the students, but all agreed that they need a plan for students to return.

Little voiced concern that daycares are not given enough time to plan for extra kids when the announcement is made one to two days before. Also, she brought up the fact that some calls from the district have started to show up as “spam risk.”

Thomas said, “there are 5 numbers that the district uses. Three is those numbers will appear from Lyman, SC, 1 from Pendleton, SC, and 1 from Travelers Rest. There is no certain number for a certain school. We have sent these numbers to parents to remember.”

The idea of E-Learning continuing until the end of the first semester and return to face to face once the second semester is set to begin was discussed. 

Dr. Thomas has a meeting with the Laurens County Chamber of Commerce's COVID-19 task force on Thursday Jan. 14. She said she hopes to have a decision on how the district will proceed at that point.