GVL Guides    City, Coronavirus

Back-to-school in Greenville, SC

Image from @gcschools

Students, parents, and teachers all have questions about what this school year will bring. 2020 has been unprecedented to say the least, so we did some digging to help break it down.

What we can all plan for is another year of learning + growing, no matter if students are in-person or virtual.

The first day of school will look different this year. So let’s take a look at what we know – plus your tips on getting back to the school year while staying safe + healthy.


Here’s a little background info –

Who said what? 

🗣️ Gov. Henry McMaster spoke about reopening schools at the State House on July 15.  McMaster called for all schools to reopen in the fall and for school districts to allow parents to decide between five days a week in the classroom or virtual learning. The governor also recommended that schools wait to reopen until Sept. 8 in order to allow more time to finalize reopening plans. 

🗣️ SC Education Superintendent Molly Spearman agreed with McMaster about the importance of reopening schools. However, she said the decision of when to open should happen at the local level and should take into account community infection rates. More information on guidelines about back to school have been recommended by Accelerate ED. The full report can be found here

🗣️ SC for ED supports districts following DHEC guidelines based on what’s happening in local communities. The organization supports providing virtual options until the number of positive cases of COVID-19 reduces. 

🗣️ Palmetto State Teachers Association agrees that reopening decisions should be based on virus data and said that it could be potentially dangerous to reopen schools if health conditions do not improve. 

🗣️ The CDC announced on July 23 that it has updated its guidelines to recommend that schools reopen in the fall. 

Learning options

Virtual Program:

Applications for the GCS Virtual Program were due July 27 + any applications submitted after that will be put on a waitlist. Students placed on the waitlist will be enrolled in the Virtual Program based on availability. You can read more about the Virtual Program here.

In-person learning:

Greenville County Schools recently announced a change to their in-person attendance schedule (you can read our breakdown of the original schedule here). The change is that when two days of in-person attendance are permitted, blue + green students will attend school on Mon. and Wed. and red + purple students will attend schools on Tues. and Thurs. All students will participate in eLearning on Friday and on days they are not learning in-person. Read more here


Back to school shopping may be more difficult to complete this year. Most teachers create their own lists specific to the needs of their classrooms. Reach out to your child’s teacher to see what that list includes + be prepared for extra cleaning supplies this year. To ensure your student is prepared for a hybrid model, plan to have a set of school supplies for home + for the classroom. As an added precaution if you want to grab a few reusable masks for your student, check out these masks for kids. The supply list for children participating in the full time Virtual Program can be found here.

School calendar

You can see the full calendar here.

The anticipated start date for the 2020-21 school year for Greenville County is Aug. 24, one week later than originally planned. June 4, 2021 will remain the last day of school, for now, according to GCS. From the GCS website: Days will be made up by converting our three ‘snow days’ to student attendance days, changing Monday, November 2 to a student attendance day, and changing the teacher workday/student holiday on January 15 to an attendance day. In addition, the Teacher Professional Development Day/Student Holiday on October 19 has been moved to October 23.”

#ProTips for at-home learning

  • Have kids get dressed like they usually would for school. This helps to establish routines and expectations for productivity during the day.
  • Structure is just as important as ever. It is recommended that students have a dedicated workspace away from televisions and other distractions.
  • Create a schedule that works for the whole family — and stick to that schedule for consistency. For parents: establish your own schedule and communicate with other family members so they understand how to respect your time.
  • Take breaks. A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes for every 60 minutes of work completed. Additionally, use the National PTA’s guidelines for homework10 minutes per grade level, e.g. a 3rd grader might be assigned ~30 minutes of supplemental work outside of regular school instruction.
  • Help maintain children’s social connections by connecting them virtually with classmates for study groups, fun activities, or simply to chat during lunchtime. Find out more here.

Reader tips

“It is hard to remember in the midst of so much stress and survival right now, but I try to keep in mind how much our kids are absorbing this stress and uncertainty too. Regression in times of extreme stress is NORMAL. Still frustrating and challenging, but normal. I try to give extra grace, for them and for me, whenever I can.” – Jen K.

“Your attitude and tone will set their attitude and tone.” – GS.

“Setup a dedicated place to do school work. Keep a routine.” – Brock.