By Ruben Lowman
Horry County Schools will start installing plexiglass workstations for all elementary school students beginning this Friday, Nov. 13, in hopes that the extra precautionary measure will make it safer for students and teachers, as well as make it more likely the district could transition to five-day, in-person classroom learning for all students at some point in the near future.
County school officials said they plan to have the installation process completed for the majority of elementary schools in the district within nine days, having Sunday, Nov. 22, as the target date to finish placing the plexiglass stations around student’s desks.
The county plans to use Friday, Saturday and Sunday to install the more than 22,000 workstations to avoid affecting teachers and students during school.
After the workstation shields are installed for all the elementary schools in the district, they will begin the process for middle and high schools, but no dates were given at this time. Students in elementary schools were chosen to receive the plexiglass first after district officials evaluated the importance of five-day classroom instruction for children at this age.
Ocean Drive Elementary School Principal Renea Fowler said the students at her school have shown their determination and willingness to adapt to the extra COVID-19 precautionary measures they have so far been forced to grow accustomed to. She noted that the children have been remarkable in taking everything in stride so far and focused on enjoying their time at school around their teachers and friends.
“What I will say more than anything, our kids, we don’t give them credit for being resilient. Our kids have come back in here, they are so glad to see their friends, they are not having the problems with the social distancing,” Fowler said. “They are wearing their masks, their friends are wearing a mask so they wear a mask. It’s no big deal for them. They see our little stickers on the floor that we have put in so they know to stay six feet apart. I think they are just so excited to be back with their friends.”
The plexiglass workstation shields go around the child’s desk on three sides and are about the same height as the students when they are standing up. County officials said that some of the newer schools within the district will take longer to install because the dimensions of the desks require a different plan for the design.
HCS spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said that the county received nearly $4 million in plexiglass from the state’s Department of Education, with nearly all of the materials necessary having been received by the county already.
She also said that school officials were given guidelines by SCDHEC in October outlining how to administer and use the plexiglass to maintain the health and safety of all faculty and students.