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Expanded in-person learning opportunities are crucial for students

Every day the irreplaceable benefits of in-person learning are becoming more evident.

The studies we’ve seen and the stories we’ve heard from teachers and administrators point to a common theme: students need to return to the classroom as soon — and safely — as possible.

The Beaufort County Schools Board of Education made the right call by approving recommendations to allow all of the district’s high schools to offer in-person classes four days a week as of March 22, with Plan B COVID-19 mandates in place. Middle schools students at Northeast Elementary and S.W. Snowden Elementary will be given that same option. High schoolers and middle schoolers currently can take in-person classes two days a week using a cohort system.  The added value those two extra in-person days will bring is immeasurable.

Based on the district’s recently approved attendance policy updates, the students will be required to stick with in-person or remote learning — no more bouncing back and forth — which adds a much-needed layer of accountability.

The changes provide additional opportunities for students already taking in-person classes, and may encourage more remote-learning students to return to the classroom.

“A lot of kids need that one-on-one, that chance to connect with a teacher or a peer or whoever and they’re home alone or they’re home with their siblings,” BCS social worker Belinda Cowell said last week. “

There’s still a ways to go in the quest to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, and there’s still a ways to go before every child is required to return to the classroom on a full-time basis. Assuming statewide COVID-19 metrics continue to trend favorably, more opportunities should open up for in-person learning, and that’s great news for students — many of whom have struggled academically, socially and emotionally since the pandemic began.