The Aiken County public schools are expected to open on regular schedules today – but only after the District had to close schools last Wednesday through Friday and again on Monday.
As of Monday, all the schools have power and their driveways are cleared of debris, said Deputy Superintendent David Caver.
However, some schools still have limbs within the school grounds. Students will be kept away from those areas during bus drop-offs, Caver said. He acknowledged that the School District's maintenance staff could need weeks to remove such debris in schools throughout the county.
“The Aiken County Emergency Preparedness Office indicated that some homes remain without power, yet the majority are back. Many rural areas still have some road issues,” Caver said.
In a press release posted on Facebook earlier on Monday, District officials indicated that any secondary roads appearing impassable will be avoided by school buses.
“We ask all bus riders to make their way to the main road closest to their homes for bus pickup,” said Tammie Newman, public information officer. “If anyone is still without power or has special circumstances, contact your school principal about this matter at your earliest convenience.”
Several urban areas that do have tree and limb concerns include two North Augusta sites – the Hammond Hill neighborhood and Bunting Street between Georgia Avenue. Cherokee Street in the Valley near Belvedere has debris issues, Caver said.
With students returning to their schools, District administrators and School Board members soon will begin a discussion on how to make up the four missed school days – or not. Still, the District will have the opportunity to use two teacher workdays in March to offset two of those missed days. With schools closed on Monday, administrators could not use that day to offset the previous one-day school closing during the snowstorm late last month.
The S.C. House introduced and passed a measure that would give all school districts the option of excusing up to five missed days. The Senate is expected to take up the bill this week. However, “If we can make up the days, we would like to do so,” said Superintendent Dr. Beth Everitt. “But if it comes to classes held after school or on Saturday, those days would not be productive.”
The District designates the first week of April – during the Masters golf tournament – as its spring break. That's a problem, too, in making up any days that week, Everitt said. A number of employees work for the prestigious golf tournament, and parents often take family trips as well, she said.
The School Board will make up its own Board meeting tonight, which was originally scheduled last week.
Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.
He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.