Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan

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  • Updated 9/20/2021


    On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plans (ARP) Act was signed into law. In it, the U.S. Department of Education is providing an additional $121.9 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III Fund). This legislation will award grants to state educational agencies (SEAs) for providing local educational agencies (LEAs) with emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the nation.

    South Carolina will receive $2,112,051,487 in ESSER III funds from the Act, with 90 percent being awarded to school districts with amounts determined in proportion to the amount of Title I, Part A funds they received in summer 2020 from funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The remaining funds will be used for state-level activities to address issues caused by COVID-19.

    This plan describes how the LEA or district will provide the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services for all schools, including those that have already returned to in-person instruction. This report template complies with all reporting requirements of the ARP Act (Public Law 117-2), the ESSER III grant terms, conditions, and assurances (CFDA Number 84.425U), and the interim final rule established by the U.S. Department of Education, 86 FR 21195

    Maintaining Health and Safety


    A district’s plan must include how it will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other school and LEA staff, and the extent to which it has adopted policies or practices and a description of any such policies or practices, on each of the CDC's safety recommendations including: universal and correct wearing of masks; modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing (e.g., use of cohorts/podding); hand washing and respiratory etiquette; cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation; contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the state, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments; diagnostic and screening testing; efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible; appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies or practices; and coordination with state and local health officials. 

    Description of maintaining health and safety

    Horry County Schools (HCS) will begin the 2021-22 school year with a five-day per week, face-to-face instructional model and will adhere to the following health protocols. Accordingly, the District will:

    • publish the COVID-19 pre-screening checklist and strongly encourage students and staff members to utilize the checklist prior to entering an HCS facility,
    • encourage staff members and students to stay home or go home if they are showing COVID-19 symptoms or if they have tested positive for COVID-19,
    • limit visitors and activities for non-essential purposes,
    • provide sanitizing stations throughout the building,
    • provide opportunities for and promote frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer,
    • utilize guidelines to minimize the number of students being sent to the office area and the health room/nurse's office (Health room protocols have been established.)
    • encourage each school to monitor students’ arrivals and dismissals to discourage students from congregating in groups,
    • encourage schools to keep students in cohorts within the classroom, on the school bus, and while participating in extracurricular activities, to the extent possible,
    • encourage individuals to maintain at least 3-feet of social distancing for students (at least 6-feet for adults) to the extent possible,
    • identify a room that is available to be used for the purpose of isolating students who exhibit symptoms of COIVD-19 during the school day.  (Isolation is required for all cases of COVID-19.),
    • encourage schools to incorporate virtual events such as parent/family meetings, assemblies, etc., where possible,
    • follow all CDC, SCDHEC, and SCDE guidelines for mask wearing and social distancing (August 27, 2021, the SCDE issued a memorandum that states "SCDE will again enforce the CDC's order requiring the use of face coverings by students and staff on state owned and operated school buses. All districts must be in compliance with this requirement no later than Monday, August 30, 2021."),
    • encourage use of technology conferencing for District and school staff meetings,
    • monitor the spread of viruses or other contagious diseases, such as but not limited to, influenza and COVID-19,
    • notify Regional SCDHEC health authorities for any COVID-19 cases among children and staff who were contagious with COVID-19 while on campus or attending an official campus event using established reporting processes, and
    • maintain the HCS COVID-19 Dashboard and update twice daily.

    Policies or Practices Regarding CDC Recommendations

    Universal and correct wearing of masks

    Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

    The use of face coverings by students and staff within school facilities remains a recommendation of state and federal public health officials; therefore, individuals may voluntarily elect to wear a face mask within school facilities. HCS strongly encourages the use of face masks for students, staff members, and visitors while at a school facility. On August 27, 2021, the SCDE issued a memorandum that states "SCDE will again enforce the CDC's order requiring the use of face coverings by students and staff on state owned and operated school buses. All districts must be in compliance with this requirement no later than Monday, August 30, 2021."  

    Modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing (e.g., use of cohorts/podding)

    Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

    Mitigation measures such as proper signage in multiple languages, the installation of floor decals and water bottle filling stations, and the promotion of social distancing have been implemented at each HCS facility. Extended and/or staggered meal service will be implemented to support social distancing while ensuring adequate time for students to consume their meals. Individual schools will determine cafeteria service that best suits the needs of their students. Cafeterias and/or classrooms may be used as settings for student meals. Transportation will comply with SCDHEC and CDC guidelines regarding capacity on school buses that are in effect during the 2021-22 school year.

    Handwashing and respiratory etiquette

    Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

    HCS will provide adequate supplies to support healthy hygiene behaviors (e.g., soap, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol for safe use by staff and older children, paper towels, and tissues). Schools will systematically and frequently check and refill hand sanitizers.  Schools will utilize age-appropriate activities that encourage sound personal hygiene practices and respiratory etiquette.  

    Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation

    Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

    In addition to the numerous mitigation efforts in place, HCS disinfects high touch areas with an EPA-approved germicide throughout the District each day. An electrostatic sprayer is used at the end of the day to disinfect classrooms, restrooms, and other common areas.  High touch common areas will be cleaned throughout the day.  Buses will be disinfected twice a day.

    The HCS Facilities Department has completed a number of HVAC upgrades both last summer and this summer to improve outdoor air delivery to schools. Additionally, several upcoming HVAC upgrades are being planned for the 2021-22 school year including replacement of old HVAC units and the installation of air purifier devices in the supply side air ventilation system. 

    Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine

    Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

    HCS will continue contact tracing and transparent reporting to the public of COVID-19 cases and staff quarantines within the District. To provide transparent reporting for our stakeholders, the District maintained a COVID-19 case dashboard throughout the 2020-21 school year and will continue to do so for the 2021-22 school year.

    HCS will provide guidance to parents/students, employees, and contractors on screening protocols for the daily pre-screening process, a process which all parties should complete prior to entering the campus/building. Each school will continue to provide current health information to staff, students, and families about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, when they should stay home, and when they can return to school. HCS will continue to follow the 2020-21 plan for assisting students and staff who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms during the school day.

    Each school will establish a dedicated space for symptomatic individuals that will not be used for other purposes. Students who present COVID-19 symptoms will immediately be isolated to the designated space. The symptomatic person will be required to wear a cloth face covering while waiting to leave the facility.

    Students who display COVID-19 symptoms or who have received a SCDHEC confirmed positive COVID-19 test result will be asked to quarantine for the SCDHEC recommended period of time. 

    Quarantine is required for an individual who has been a close contact (within 3 feet for students or 6 feet for adults, for at least 15 minutes cumulatively over a 24-hour period) of someone who is determined positive with COVID-19 either through testing or symptom consistent diagnosis, with the following two exceptions:

    • individuals who are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms do NOT need to quarantine after a close contact; however, it is recommended that the individuals wear a mask for 14 days following the close contact,
    • people who have tested positive (PCR or antigen test) for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered and do not have symptoms do NOT need to quarantine; however, it is recommended that the individuals wear a mask for 14 days following the close contact.

    If three or more COVID-19 cases are identified within a classroom or other cohort of students within fourteen days of each other, all students and staff in the cohort will be quarantined for 10 days after contact with the last identified COVID-19 case.

    Diagnostic and screening testing

    Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

    HCS completed the SCDE survey requesting to be a pilot district for voluntary diagnostic and screening testing during the summer. However, the District did not meet the qualifications. The District would like to be able to offer voluntary screening during the 2021-22 school year.

    Efforts to provide vaccinations to educators, other staff, and students, if eligible

    Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

    During the 2020-21 school year, HCS worked collaboratively with Conway Medical Center (CMC) to offer the COVID-19 vaccination to all of the District's employees. CMC conducted four two-day vaccination events for District employees at CMC facilities.  To prepare for these vaccination events, HCS surveyed all employees and provided the needed information to CMC who scheduled all appointments. The District will continue its partnership with CMC for the 2021-22 school year.  In September 2021, vaccination clinics were offered in four of the District’s attendance areas to students, school staff members, and community members. 

    Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies and practices

    Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

    When circumstances require specific policies or practices designed to protect the health and safety of students, 504 and IEP teams will determine if modifications and/or reasonable accommodations are needed for individual students with disability-related issues.   

    Coordination with state and local health officials

    Description of Policies or Practices, if applicable

    HCS has a valued partnership with both local SCDHEC staff and local health care providers. For the 2021-22 school year, HCS will continue to implement directives from the CDC and SCDHEC concerning face coverings, social distancing, and contact tracing.

    Continuity of Services


    Districts must describe how the LEA will ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address students' academic needs and students' and staff social, emotional, mental health and other needs, which may include student health and food services.

    District response on continuity of services

    Academic Needs

    HCS will begin the 2021-22 school year with a five-day per week, face-to-face instruction for students in child development through twelfth grade. The District will also provide a full-time K-12 virtual program for students.

    Spring and fall 2021 data will be used as baseline measures to determine academic gaps in reading and math. This information will be used to identify learning loss and skill identification to employ additional interventions in reading and math including, but not limited to, tutorials before and after school, as well as reading and math interventions during the school day. Literacy academic growth and progress for students in K-2 will be assessed via the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment in fall, winter, and spring. Literacy and math academic growth and progress for students in K-8 will be assessed via NWEA MAP assessments in fall, winter, and spring. In grades 6-8, iReady Math Diagnostic will also be utilized.

    In grades 9-12, schools will utilize state-provided strand data, as well as the state data review, to provide professional development for teachers who teach courses for which the state requires an end-of-course assessment (EOC). HCS common-assessment data will be utilized to monitor growth and progress in EOC courses throughout the year. Schools will provide ongoing support for academically at-risk students who have demonstrated learning loss, as a result of the pandemic, through small-group instruction, interventions, credit recovery, and tutoring. All high schools will continue to strive to increase the number of students who are deemed college- or career-ready and to increase the number of students who are on-time graduates. In addition, schools will continue to develop and implement strategies to improve all state report card measures.

    A continuum of interventions will be provided that supports Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS). Instructional staff will participate in professional learning opportunities to ensure compliance with Act 213, which requires all district and charter schools to report data on the implementation of MTSS and universal screening procedures for students in kindergarten through second grade.

    Family Connections

    HCS recognizes that families are equal partners in attaining educational goals for students. Educators view families and creating family-school relationships as essential for children's optimal academic, social, and emotional learning. Schools will provide opportunities for family engagement through events such as literacy nights, book fairs, family nights, open houses, musical performances, sports events, and parent-conference days/nights.

    Special Education Services and FAPE

    HCS is committed to the continued Child Find obligation and efforts under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The District will continue to work in collaboration with schools and parents, guardians, and adult students to provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those individuals providing education, specially designed instruction, and related services to these students. Specially designed instruction and related services will be provided as specified in student individualized education programs (IEPs) and Section 504 plans. Progress-monitoring data relevant to students’ IEP goals will be monitored to identify learning loss/gains and skill identification that may warrant revisions to these plans to meet the individual needs of students. Section 504 meetings and IEP meetings will be scheduled in accordance within the required timelines and processes and will be scheduled at mutually agreed upon times and locations between the school and the parent, guardian, or adult student.

    Multilingual Learners

    HCS will prioritize the scheduling of ESOL services for English learners in order to maximize service minutes. Schools will continue to schedule EL students with teachers trained in sheltered-instruction content strategies. Teachers will follow the students’ individualized learning plans to ensure accommodations are provided for EL students as identified. Essential information, at a minimum, will be provided in the top five languages of students in the District to include Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Mandarin, and Vietnamese.

    Gifted and Talented Students

    Existing screening tools used for the identification of gifted and talented students will be utilized. Schools will schedule gifted and talented students with thoughtful consideration to ensure that continuity of services is maintained. Schools will determine the master schedule and groupings, keeping in mind the needs of gifted and talented students.

    Grading Practices

    HCS will follow the S.C. Uniform Grading Policy and established HCS grading protocols.

    Professional Development

    Opportunities will be provided to facilitate collaboration and professional development that safely supports the professional growth and development of all staff. Educators will receive ongoing professional learning related to the pedagogy and strategies to promote student learning, social-emotional wellness, and success. New instructional personnel will be provided the opportunity to attend New Teacher Academy in August. Professional development support for the implementation of instructional standards and priorities and updated curriculum maps will be customized for educators based on their grade-level assignments and/or specific content areas such as special education, English as a Second Language, career and technical education, physical education, fine arts, foreign languages, etc. Professional learning communities within and across schools will be utilized in an ongoing manner for the exchange of resources, best practices, as well as discussion of challenges and needs.

    Social, Emotional, Mental Health of Students and Staff (Could also include health and food services)

    Schools are equipped to address social, emotional, and mental health needs through counseling services and integration of social-emotional learning utilizing the following resources: Caring School Community (CD-5), Second Steps (6-8), and School Connect (9-12).

    Rehabilitative Behavioral Health Services (RBHS) are available to all students. RBHS counselors are present in the schools five days a week during the school hours and beyond, if needed. Staff members are an integral part of the school community and are involved in meetings regarding students, crisis situations that may involve children not involved with the program (as school administration expresses the need), and other non-academic programs (assemblies, special teams). HCS is fortunate to work collaboratively with Waccamaw Mental Health (WMH) and have seven WMH counselors assigned to District schools. HCS will continue to provide professional development and resources for school guidance and RBHS counselors in an effort to assist students better.

    Each HCS campus has a nurse on site to assist students.

    Periodic Review


     Districts are required to review and, as appropriate, revise their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan at least every six months through September 30, 2023, including seeking public input and taking such input into account in determining whether to revise the plan and, if revisions are determined necessary, on the revisions it makes to its plan. If a district developed a plan prior to enactment of the ARP Act that was made publicly available and was developed with public comment, but does not address each of the required aspects of safety established in the ARP Act, the district must, as part of the required periodic review, revise its plan consistent with the ARP Act requirements no later than six months after it last reviewed its plan.

    District response on ensuring periodic updates to its plan

    During the period of the ARP ESSER award (until September 2023), HCS will periodically review and, as needed, revise its plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. The plan will be reviewed at least every six months, and the school system will seek and take into account public input during the review process. Plan revisions will address updated CDC and SCDHEC guidance on safely reopening schools, if any are issued.

    Public Input


    The ARP Act requires that school districts make their Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan available to the public online and that the plans be in an understandable and uniform format; to the extent practicable, are written in a language that parents can understand or, if not practicable, orally translated; and upon request by a parent who is an individual with a disability, provided in an alternative format accessible to that parent. Before making its plan publicly available, school districts must seek public comment on the plan and develop the plan after taking into account public comment.

    District response on public input in development of its plan

    HCS has taken the following steps to make its plan available to the public:

    • The plan is posted at
    • The plan is available in multiple languages through the use of our web provider powered by Google Translate. The plan is available in more than 100 languages.
    • The plan was sent to parents, students, and employees via our messaging systems.
    • The plan was shared at the June 7 and June 21, 2021, Horry County Board of Education meetings. An opportunity for public comment was available during the June 21, 2021, Board meeting.
    • Upon request, a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA may be provided with the plan in an alternative format accessible by contacting Kristin Wilson, Executive Director of Federal Programs,, (843) 488-6562.