Sumter School District to begin year online; still no start date for athletics

Trustees unanimously approve superintendent’s recommendation Monday night


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Due to COVID-19, Sumter School District will begin the new school year next month in a virtual, online capacity and there is still no start date for when athletics can begin.

On Monday night, the district’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved Superintendent Penelope Martin-Knox’s recommendation to begin the upcoming school year on Aug. 17 with virtual instruction.

After the board meeting concluded, the district released a statement that included postponing any start of athletics until a later time.

Monday’s meeting was a special-called meeting that was announced last week.

Per the agenda, board members went into executive session behind closed doors after the meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. The executive session lasted about two hours and Monday’s meeting concluded at 8:20 p.m.

In her statement released about 9 p.m., Martin-Knox noted that the district continues to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases in South Carolina and that Sumter County is currently categorized as a “high-risk community,” according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The superintendent added that based on the state and county data and community feedback from recent surveys, the district’s Reopening Schools Task Force is currently working to finalize a re-entry plan for the upcoming school year. After starting Aug. 17 in a virtual capacity, the district “will subsequently phase into a hybrid model,” the statement says.  

A district spokeswoman said the re-entry plan’s specific details will be released to the public as soon as the plan is completed.

The continued spread of the virus presents “an extraordinary challenge,” Martin-Knox said, that will require everyone’s collective expertise to address needs of students, families, staff and faculty and school communities.

The superintendent closed by saying the safety of students and staff will always remain at the forefront of every decision.

“We will continue to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases in our area in conjunction with the governor’s office, state Department of Education, DHEC, CDC and the South Carolina High School League.

The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for July 20 at 6 p.m.


No potential starting date for a resumption of district athletics from the pandemic has been set yet, according to the superintendent’s statement.

“In terms of athletics, Sumter School District administrators, athletic directors, principals and coaches have been working carefully to develop a well-planned, intentional document that includes best practices for minimization of COVID-19 transmission during workouts, training or competition,” Martin-Knox said. “However, due to the increase of COVID-19 cases in our community and state, Sumter School District is postponing the start of athletic practices and workouts. No potential start date for athletics has been determined at this time.”

The spring sports season for the 2019-20 school year was suspended by the South Carolina High School League in the middle of the March due to the outbreak of the coronavirus and never restarted.

The state league announced during the first week of June that schools could resume workouts at their discretion or those of their school districts. Several schools have started, but some schools have had to shut them down, due to COVID-19.