Oconee Co. Schools announce changes for 2017-18 school year

WALHALLA, SC (FOX Carolina) –

Parents and students in the School District of Oconee County will see some changes to the beginning of this school year.

Oconee County schools start back on Aug. 17 and this year, the district is implementing staggering start times for different grade levels.

Elementary schools will still begin at 8 a.m. and dismiss at 2:45 p.m., but middle schools will now start at 8:30 a.m. and dismiss at 3:30 p.m. and high schools will start at 8:45 a.m. and dismiss at 3:45 p.m.

The staggered start schedule will allow for transportation routes to utilize double bus runs and have increased efficiency, the district said.

“The district looks forward to cutting the longer bus routes significantly for those students who have had ride times of three hours and up each school day.” said Dr. Michael Thorsland, district superintendent.

All the schools open starting at 7:30 a.m. and are supervised, so parents can maintain the same drop-off times as previous years.

Since Oconee County schools begin class before the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, the district said they will be organizing a safe viewing experience for students. The totality of the eclipse is around 2:38 p.m. and to ensure safe dismissal, the district said all schools on Aug. 21 will dismiss 15 minutes later than normal.

Since some families will want to participate in eclipse activities with their children, the district said students who are out of school on Aug. 21 will be counted as absent but excused as attending an educational event. Parents may also sign there students out of school early, but no later than 1 p.m. on the day of the eclipse.

Kindergarten students won’t participate in the outdoor viewing of the eclipse, but will watch it on a video livestream.

“We are looking forward to providing rich learning experiences at the schools during this once in a lifetime experience of a full solar eclipse,” Thorsland said.

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