Horry County schools have been closed for 10 consecutive school days with no end in sight, but staff is continuing to get paid without interruption.
Lisa Bourcier, the school district’s spokeswoman, wrote in an email that all staff, including teachers and bus drivers, have continued to be paid despite the lengthy cancellation that began in preparation of Hurricane Florence and has continued due to flooding in the storm’s aftermath.
Schools have been closed since Sept. 11, and officials announced Saturday that closures would extend through this week, which would add up to 14 missed school days.
HCS interim board president Neil James said the board would take a look after this week at possibly reopening certain schools within the county. Many county schools are being used as shelters, he noted.
James also praised Superintendent Rick Maxey’s decision to keep the schools closed through this week.
Bourcier wrote in the email that no final decisions have been made regarding altered testing schedules or makeup days, but a state Department of Education spokesman explained the typical process.
Department spokesman Ryan Brown noted that, per state law, districts must set aside three days in its academic calendar as makeup days.
Those days, as listed on the HCS academic calendar, are Oct. 8, Jan. 18 and Feb. 18.
Schools that are closed four to six days can waive those days by a majority vote from the local school board of trustees, Brown continued.
Brown added that the board could also choose to make up those days by lengthening school days by at least one hour or operating on a Saturday, though any such plan would require approval by the state Department of Education.
After a school district is closed six to nine days, its school board may request a waiver for those days from the State Board of Education, Brown wrote.
Any closures beyond nine days would require a legislative fix.
“Historically, the General Assembly has waived days during inclement weather through a joint resolution,” Brown wrote.
After Hurricane Matthew in 2016, HCS missed seven days — except Green Sea Floyds schools, which missed eight days, due to power outages. The district made up three days, waived three days via majority county school board vote and received a waiver for the other day from the state board.
As for how the long absence might affect testing dates, Brown wrote that the department will be giving districts flexibility on end-of-course testing due to the extreme weather and flooding. He added that summative state testing occurs during the last 20 days of school, so no adjustment is currently needed.
Georgetown County schools are in a similar situation, having closed Sept. 11-18, including six school days, before returning Sept. 19-21. As the county prepares for flooding, the district announced it would close Monday until further notice.