Superintendent's Update on Reopening Schools


Find a copy of our 2020-21 Return to Schools Guide for Families attached with this story.




UPDATE: Week of Aug. 24-28


This was LEAP week for grades K-8, and even with a “new” normal, it was great to have students back in our schools.  


In our visits to schools throughout the week, it was evident that health and safety were top of mind for our teachers, administrators and staff members. We observed socially distanced desks in classrooms and seating on buses; directional stickers and distancing reminders on floors, doors and walls; new processes for transitioning between classrooms and public areas; frequent wipe-downs in heavily trafficked areas; cleaning materials in classrooms; masks on adults and students alike; and more.  It was good to see our months of preparation as a district pay off in collecting PPE and other protections for our schools and buses. I want our families to head into the new school year, remembering that the health and safety of students and employees is our top priority.


There were some first-day nerves during LEAP week among some of our teachers and students, wondering how distanced desks and masks would affect the overall school experience. However, at the end of the day, it seems we all came away reassured that, while COVID has reshaped some of our physical spaces and habits, it has not changed the heart of our school mission. I think I speak for all Lexington Two employees when I say we cannot wait to start the new school year on Tuesday, September 8, and be with our students, whether through Virtual Academy or hybrid instruction.


Dr. William B. James Jr.





A look inside a classroom during the COVID pandemic (ABC Columbia)


Lexington Two teachers prepare for start of new school year (WLTX NEWS 19)


Lexington Virtual Academy students receive iPads, Chrome books in preparation for school year (WIS-TV)


School talks social distancing and preventing the spread ahead of reopening (WACHFox57)


Lexington Two schools get 260,000 masks (West Metro News)


Lexington Two receives personal protective equipment for students




Health guidelines for parents from our Lexington Two nurses:


UPDATE: Week of Aug. 17-21


As of Friday, August 21, we were 19 days out from the first day of classes on Tuesday, September 8.


There is a lot going on to prepare to welcome back our students, whether they will be attending school in the hybrid/blended model or in our full-time Lexington Two Virtual Academy. Here are a few of the week’s highlights.


Face masks: Lexington Two is following guidelines from a number of sources, including the SC Department of Education, on face masks for staff, students and visitors on district property, on district transportation, and while attending a school-related activity. Toward this end, the Board of Trustees adopted a temporary policy outlining these guidelines at its August 20 meeting. Click here to view it.


Student attendance: The board also adopted a temporary policy outlining attendance requirements for hybrid/blended and Virtual Academy students during the pandemic. It pairs with earlier changes to Policy JH Student Absences and Excuses. Click here to read both policies.


Instructional update: We presented a hybrid/blended instructional update at this week’s board meeting. Parents with a child enrolled in this model will want to check it out. Here's the link: 


PPE and safety needs: The district continues to stock up on PPE and safety needs, with additional supplies arriving weekly.  We're grateful to the many sources helping us stock up on essentials like thermometers, face shields, shoe covers, wipes and more. A big thanks, too, to the state and the SC Department of Education for supplying us with with masks (10,000-plus cloth masks and 250,000 disposable adult masks), along with gloves, disposable medical gowns, cleaners, hand sanitizer and more. Keeping our employees and students safe is our top priority, and we're thankful for everyone helping us do just that.




The week of August 24-28 will be the final one in Lexington Two’s free summer food service program. Seven days of breakfast/lunch meals will be distributed Monday-Friday from 11am-noon at Cayce Elementary, Riverbank Elementary, Pine Ridge Middle and Airport High.  There will be no bus delivery of meals. No meals will be offered August 31-September 7, as Lexington Two transitions to the start of the new school year on September 8. That new year will include curbside pickup meals for all Lexington Two Virtual Academy students, as well as for hybrid students on the days they do not attend in-person classes at school.  Details are still being worked out. I am proud to share that, since March, when schools statewide were closed for COVID-19, Lexington Two has served nearly 310,000 student meals. We thank everyone who has been involved in making this happen.


We are excited about next week, August 24-28, when we’ll have 4K-8 students back in our schools for LEAP (Learn, Evaluate, Analyze, and Prepare) Days. Each child will be given the opportunity to attend school one of the five LEAP Days.  LEAP Days will focus on the following (depending on the child’s grade level):

  • Welcome Back activities
  • School-wide expectations
  • eLearning procedures/expectations
  • Pre-Assessments


With all the news and updates coming out in advance of the start of the new year, we encourage families to follow their child's school on social media and visit the school’s website. Many of our schools are posting video tours about new processes and procedures amid COVID, as well as supply lists and other information.


Dr. William B. James Jr.




Summer meal service ending. but new meal service will launch for school year:




I have mentioned in previous weekly updates about the importance of health and safety guidance in helping schools make decisions and set policies for the new year amid COVID-19.


This week, we received from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control a Frequently Asked Questions document to help answer questions from students, parents, teachers, and administrators regarding school operations in the COVID-19 environment. We wanted to share this important information with you. Please take a minute to review it:


Also this week, families enrolled in the hybrid model should be receiving information from their schools in coming days about their child’s assigned in-person learning days. If you did not, please contact your school.


Finally, we are looking forward to seeing our 4K-8th grade students as part of LEAP (Learn, Evaluate, Analyze, and Prepare) Days. The LEAP Days for Lexington Two will be August 24-28.  Your child will be given the opportunity to attend school for one day during the LEAP week. You should have received detailed information about the program from your school. If you haven’t, please contact the school directly.


We are roughly a month out from the first day of school on Tuesday, September 8. We appreciate your support as we finalize plans to provide high quality instruction in the safest environment possible.


Dr. William B. James Jr.





Register students now for the 2020-21 school year:


Registration for adult education classes begins August 31:


Change to attendance policy for 2020-21:




An important part of our return plans is bus transportation for students starting the year in our hybrid plan. As you know, we will be running buses with reduced ridership, per guidance from the SC Department of Education.  We are continuing work on routes and hope to release that information in the next couple of weeks. Here are a few things families will need to know about riding buses this fall:


  • All students and the bus driver will be required to wear masks, unless medically prohibited, per SC Department of Education guidelines


  • Buses will be loaded from back to front. Students should try to keep distance while loading the bus and while walking down bus aisles


  • Students will be assigned socially-distanced seating 


  • Windows and roof vents will be open to maximize ventilation 


  • Drivers will have access to cleaning and sanitizing materials, and buses will be cleaned/disinfected -- including the use of misting machines we’ve purchased for this purpose -- after morning and afternoon routes


  • Expect to hear more about bus transportation as we get closer to the first day for students on September 8




Our Board of Trustees has approved a new 2020-21 academic calendar. The first day of classes, as you know, is set for September 8, and the final day of the year will be a half day on June 18. Find a copy of the calendar here:


Dr. William B. James Jr.





August 6 Board Presentation: Instructional Update




I am devoting this update to three questions we heard frequently over the past week from our families, as they weighed decisions about the full-time Virtual Academy program and the 2 days in school/3 days of virtual learning in the hybrid/blended plan to start the school year.


Question 1: Will siblings enrolled in the hybrid plan be assigned the same days to attend in-person learning at schools? The answer is yes. Families should learn sometime during the week of August 3 which days their children will be in school.


Question 2: If I’m enrolled in the hybrid plan and decide once the school year starts that I’m not comfortable with it, can I move to the Virtual Academy? The answer is yes, provided there is space. Requests to move from the Virtual Academy back into the home school will only be considered at a semester break, and again granted as space and safety will allow. Regardless of which program your child is enrolled in, teachers in both the virtual and hybrid/blended programs will be in close contact to plan lessons and timelines, to ensure smooth transitions between programs for students. 


Question 3: Will all students, even those in 4K and 5K, be required to wear masks? The answer to that is yes as well. Masks will be required of Lexington Two students and staff in the school building.  At the end of last week, the SC Department of Education also announced its requirement for face masks in all of the state’s public school facilities, with some considerations noted below from that announcement:

The state's face mask requirement while inside public school facilities will follow the guidance set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which states that cloth face coverings should not be placed on:

  • Children younger than 2 years old.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
  • Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.

The CDC guidance also has considerations for clear face coverings for special populations of students and staff.


We thank you for your patience and support as we continue to work toward the start of our new year. That new year begins September 8.  Please know that we are considering possible changes to Lexington Two’s 2020-21 academic calendar as a result of the delayed September start and hope to announce those changes in the coming week, once the board has considered and approved them.

Dr. William B. James Jr.





Register students now for the 2020-21 school year:


District resumes summer athletic activities:


Registration for adult education classes begins August 31:




The safety of students and employees is our top priority as we get ready for the start of the new school year on September 8. We are offering families a choice of two instruction plans for the 2020-21 school year -- a full-time Virtual Academy program and a hybrid/blended approach of 2 days in school and 3 days virtually, which reduces capacities in our schools and facilities to start the year. Our goal is to move to a 5-day, in-person instruction as quickly and as safely as possible, when the spread of COVID-19 has dropped to low levels, as measured by DHEC.


We’ve been getting questions from parents about how we will be cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing our schools in light of COVID-19. While we are still finalizing these plans, I want to share a few of the measures with you here:


  • Over the summer and in anticipation of the start of the new year, all schools are being thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and sanitized using DHEC and SDE protocols.


  • Lexington Two has purchased misting machines for each school and for bus transportation. These disinfecting machines will be used throughout the school day to disinfect public areas and other locations in schools. School buses will be cleaned with the machine after each route.


  • Each weekday, classrooms, restrooms, cafeterias, hallways, offices and other spaces in Lexington Two schools will be cleaned and disinfected prior to the arrival of students and again with the departure of faculty and administrators at the end of each school day.


  • Playground equipment will be cleaned and disinfected after each recess schedule.


  • All outside athletic facilities and equipment will be cleaned and disinfected daily.


  • High-touch areas such as door knobs, sink handles, paper towel dispensers, light switches and commonly used equipment will be wiped down throughout the school day.


  • Lexington Two will provide disinfectant products in classrooms so that high-touch items and surfaces can be cleaned frequently.


  • Hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed in schools, many located in areas with multiple users, such as hallways.


  • Bottle filling stations will be provided as an alternative to water fountains.


I will share other reopening initiatives in coming weeks concerning health, safety and other areas.


Important deadlines


The deadline to apply for our Virtual Academy program is August 1. Find information about the program and an application at


Coming this week


During the week of July 27, I also will share some information about reopening schools, with some general ideas about our hybrid and virtual programs. These plans continue to evolve, so please expect to hear more from the district and schools in coming weeks.


Dr. William B. James Jr.





District administrators and the Lexington Two Board of Trustees met on July 16, 2020, to discuss draft plans for reopening schools this fall. In these uncertain times, our goal is to give families a choice of instruction that will be best for their child for the 2020-21 school year. 


The board approved a new start date of September 8 for the school year, following the recommendation of the governor. This will not only allow more time to potentially lower COVID-19 cases but give school districts like ours more time to continue securing PPE and to set up new procedures and protocols for nearly every aspect of the school day.


While our goal is to reunite students and teachers in schools as soon and as safely as possible, the trending “high” numbers of COVID-19 cases in Lexington County, as reported by DHEC, continue to pose health and safety challenges.  In an abundance of caution to protect employees, students and families, the board at its July 16 meeting endorsed a hybrid/blended plan for face-to-face instruction to start the new school year, in which 3K-12 students will attend in-person learning two days a week and virtual learning three days a week. The board noted that the hybrid/blended plan, with only 50 percent of students in the building at one time, allows for the smallest class sizes and maximum safe distancing.  The hybrid/blended plan pairs with the previously announced Lexington Two Virtual Academy program, a full-time virtual learning plan for 5K-12 students.  In developing these two choices, Lexington Two leaders continue to monitor results of family/employee surveys as well as the health/safety guidance from local, state and national sources, information released this week by the governor, guidance from the state superintendent of education, and recommendations of the AccelerateED task force report. While endorsing a more measured hybrid plan for the start of school on September 8,  the board’s goal is to reunite students and teachers for 5-day face-to-face instruction as soon as it is safe to do so.


The deadline has been extended to August 1 for families to apply to the Lexington Two Virtual Academy program. More information on the program and an application are available at


Details of the hybrid/blended instructional plan will be released in the coming days. We thank you for your patience and support as we continue to work toward the best and safest methods of instruction for our students, employees, families and communities. 


Dr. William B. James Jr.






This has been a busy week, with the district putting final touches on reopening plans that will be shared with families and the community during the week of July 13.


Lexington Two’s reopening plans will focus on two options -- a full-time virtual model and in-person instruction in our school buildings.


In advance of the detailed plan release, this week we shared an application for the new full-time Lexington Two Virtual Academy. Based on results from our family survey, we know that in these unprecedented times, some students and families will need a full-time online learning option where they will receive engaging, standards-based learning customized to meet their needs.


Find the Lexington Two Virtual Academy application and more information here: . Applications are due July 23.


We continue to consider health and safety guidance from a number of local, state and national sources. Several of those sources are included in links in my previously published updates, as well as in attachments included at the bottom of this story file.


Of late, there has been increased discussion about the importance of offering a model that includes face-to-face instruction. We invited our principals to the Innovation Center for an in-person meeting this week, breaking into workgroups to continue discussions about the safest and best practices for reopening school buildings.


We look forward to sharing more detailed reopening information with you next week.  We will have new website pages for these reopening plans, so stay tuned for that information as well during the week of July 13.


We will continue to gather input and suggestions and make adjustments as needed. We are creating FAQs to anticipate some questions about our reopening options and will build on those as an information resource for our families and community.


Thank you for your support as we work to provide high quality instruction in the safest environment possible.


Dr. William B. James Jr.





Lexington Two continues to work diligently on plans for the safe return of students and staff to school this fall.  


This week, we completed our Lexington Two employee survey to get input on reopening schools. This follows our survey a couple of weeks ago with Lexington Two families. This information, along with feedback from a range of other stakeholders, will be key as we finalize plans.


Next week, we will launch a dedicated section on our district website to provide information about the district's re-entry plans, as details become available. We will share the link to that section next week. Information will be updated and shared with families online and through our websites, social media and automated communications systems.


We continue to monitor health and safety guidance from a variety of organizations, among them the CDC, DHEC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the SC Department of Education, among others, to plan for the safest environment possible within our schools. Here are a few reports we’ve been reviewing this week, with links or attachments for you to view them, too:


  • The American Academy of Pediatrics released its report, “Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-entry,” which includes recommendations about face coverings, social distancing (3 feet apart), good hygiene habits, teacher rotations and more. Find the report here: 
  • Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Midlands Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease
    released a report, "Recommendations for the Safe Reopening of Public Schools K-12 in
    the South Carolina." It is attached at the bottom of this story.
  • AccelerateED final task force report, shared by the SC Department of Education:   
  • A recommendation in the task force report was the SC Department of Education working with SC DHEC on a metrics chart per 100,000 people for determining low, medium and high spread conditions of COVID-19 cases for district planning purposes. The most recent report of a 2-week window on these numbers is attached at the bottom of this story. 

We expect to share reopening plans for Lexington Two families this month. Thank you for your continued patience and support as we work to provide high quality instruction in the safest environment possible.


Dr. William B. James Jr.





Summer athletics activities suspended out of an abundance of caution:


Temporary measure restricts nonessential visitors from school buildings:


Read Lexington Two's Considerations for Reopening Schools report presented to the Board of Trustees, attached below





Planning is well under way for the 2020-21 school year.  COVID-19 is presenting a number of challenges, and our commitment to a safe learning environment for students and employees means school will look much different this fall.


(READ: Lexington Two's Considerations for Reopening Schools report, attached below)


Among topics we're discussing:

  • Models for the school day, from traditional 5-day in-person instruction to blended 2-day in-person/3-day virtually, to a full-time virtual academy
  • Accessible learning for all students, across all models
  • Bus and car transportation and schedules
  • Start/end times for the school day
  • Increased cleaning protocols and safety equipment 
  • Modified classroom setups and operations to maximize social distancing
  • “Traffic management” for front offices, cafeterias, libraries, hallways, and other multi-use areas

We are seeking feedback from stakeholders. We recently completed surveys with our families and employees. We will use this information -- along with guidance from CDC, DHEC and the Department of Education -- as we shape plans for the reopening of our schools. We expect to announce plans in July and will communicate with families through our schools, websites, social media and traditional media sources.


We will continue to monitor current and available data about COVID-19 as we look to the fall. Thank you for your support, and expect to hear more from us in coming weeks.


Dr. William B. James Jr.



Related stories:


June edition of district newsletter for employees: