Pictured: Joe Hulsey
Wardlaw Academy’s teachers returned August 4thand the students returned to a five day a week school schedule on August 11th. “We have been meeting for months about this (COVID-19) and involved the external experts that can help us make decisions,” said Joe Hulsey, Wardlaw Academy’s Co Head of School.
Hulsey thinks Wardlaw, because of its size and not having transportation issues to deal with, places the school in a unique position to respond to the safety needs of COVID-19 in a nimble manner. Wardlaw like all schools in South Carolina qualify for funding from the CARES Act. The CARES Act provides money for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and cleaning and sanitizing supplies needed to fight COVID-19.
“Money is always tight and will be even more so now because we have not raised our tuition hardly any in the last two years,” explained Hulsey. Hulsey plans on absorbing the additional COVID-19 safety cost into his already tight budget.
Husley and the administrative team presented their plan to Wardlaw’s Board on Wednesday, July 29th. While SCISA (South Carolina Independent School Association) provided general information and broad recommendations, Hulsey communicated directly with SC DHEC and Suzy Spurgeon, the county’s Emergency Management Agency Director. His team also looked at CDC recommendations.
Hulsey understands how fortunate Wardlaw is to be a small school during a pandemic. Wardlaw’s administrative team collectively has over 100 years in education experience and over fifty years’ experience in administration. He also shares the concern for all schools in the county. “I felt sorry for my public school friends when the governor came out at his press conference a couple of weeks ago and said you have to do it this way,” stated Hulsey. Hulsey said he knew administrators in the county and the state had been working diligently on plans that met the needs of their local communities.
Wardlaw plans to have thirteen to fourteen students per class. Students will wear masks during transitions, but will remove them once they are distanced and seated. Hulsey explained that it is up to each independent school to decide how best to address the safety concerns and that is what makes it so appealing to a lot of people. “It is it is up to the individual site to decide what is best under the guidelines set forth by their board,” said Hulsey.
Hulsey and his team are pulling for the other schools in the area. “I’m pro public school; I’m a product of public schools and so are both my boys. I’m pulling for the public and charter schools to be able to do this because educators love teaching kids. They want their kids back and they want them in a safe situation,” added Hulsey. Hulsey stated that Wardlaw is a good fit for many kids but it’s not the best fit for all kids. He thinks Wardlaw serves an important purpose in our community, but he also feels the public schools do also.
Hulsey and his team are developing the school’s plans on how to respond to positive COVID-19 cases. He did communicate that all positive cases would result in quarantine for the student or the teacher as well as their household. He communicated that his team was still developing the “what if plans.”