As the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) works to track cases of COVID-19 across the state, there is an understandable delay in reporting confirmed cases in public schools. Berkeley County School District is committed to providing stakeholders with accurate and timely information so the BCSD COVID-19 Case Dashboard has been updated to reflect the number of confirmed cases reported directly to Berkeley County School District. These numbers will be updated every business day to provide our community with a more accurate accounting of confirmed cases in Berkeley County schools.
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The content of this database is general information for each location. Any necessary contact tracing is conducted by SCDHEC. This information is updated at the close of each business day. Please note the numbers provided are numbers of confirmed cases reported to the Berkeley County School District and are 14-day cumulative counts.
When Nexton Elementary students returned to school this month, there was a new item in the hallway outside of the media center: a vending machine.
However, this vending machine was not stocked with Poptarts or Diet Coke bottles; instead it contains roughly 100 books for all grade levels.
The book vending machine is a product of extra funds from the school’s PTA fundraising efforts last school year. PTA president Shana Bourhill said the group purchased the machine for $5,000 in February. Delivery was delayed because of the pandemic and the machine did not make it into the school until June.
The whole premise was that it would be a surprise to the students.
“It was really just something that the PTA wanted to do to surprise the teachers and the student body,” she said.
The books range from pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade. Bourhill said a majority of the books are chapter-sized but there are also books for students learning how to read.
“There’s really a huge variety in there,” she said.
Bourhill said Media Special Dustin McDonnell has already ordered a new set of replacement books to put in the machine. She said the original plan was that the school could use proceeds from its Book Fair to keep the machine stocked all the time. Bourhill has attained more books through donations from families.
The machine came from Global Vending Services out of New York. The company supplies regular drink and food vending machines but started a new product called Inchy’s Bookworm Vending Machine, where the company refurbishes an old vending machine to hold books instead of snacks and re-programs it to accept tokens instead of money.
The NES machine was customized to feature the school’s logo and mascot.
“I’ve just gotten feedback that they (the students) have been excited,” Bourhill said, adding, “It just gives them something to get excited about when they do their work – something to look forward to.”
The books are free – but a student needs to put a token in the machine to receive a book.
Bourhill said the teachers received tokens that they can give to students – the PTA left it up to the teachers to decide how to reward tokens to students.
Susan Nelson, an ESOL teacher at Nexton Elementary, said students enjoy this new incentive to read.
“They earn tokens for great behavior, listening, following directions…basically for being a standout student,” she said.
Fifth-grade teacher Deanna Jessup said the students seem to enjoy the fact that the books are theirs to keep.
“I watched one student’s face light up when she showed me her book the other day,” she said. “Picking a book like that is also a bit of adventure for them. There’s so many books out there and it expands their exposure. I’ve seen so many students checking out the vending machine and wondering what a certain book is about.”
Virtual students are benefitting from the machine as well. Cynthia Montana teaches fifth-grade virtually. She said her students earn tokens by having great participation and completing their assignments. She uses a participation chart to track their answers and completed assignments on for each day.
At the end of the week on Friday, Montana e-mails the parents and sets up a Google Meet to announce the winner – and brag on how well the students are doing.
"They are loving this reward," she said. "I have the students come up after school, so they can cash in their coin."
About 85 percent of textile waste ends up in landfills where it occupies unnecessary landfill space.
These were textiles that had the opportunity to be recycled but were not.
The reason they do not get recycled is because of a lack of a convenient place to donate textiles.
Residents might notice bright green bins on the property of some schools in Berkeley County School District, provided by a franchise called Clothes Bins, where families can actually recycle old textiles.
The result is threefold with Clothes Bins: textiles get reused as inventory at local businesses, the recycling efforts actually raise money for BCSD schools, and the overall initiative produces a greener option for what residents can do with old clothes.
Textiles include clothing, outerwear, footwear, undergarments, accessories, handbags and linens – these are all things that can go into the bins.
Chad Boariu, director of marketing and training for Clothes Bin, said the franchise is the first clothing/textile recycling franchise in the nation.
The bins are unlike anything else out there. They are equipped with sensory technology inside the bins that alerts Clothes Bins when they are about to be filled up and need servicing – very similar to a vending machine, he said. This technology is called BLIP – Bin Location Information Program – which monitors each bin and alerts the franchisee whenever a bin approaches its capacity and needs to be serviced.
Clothes Bins is in about 15 states, and there are individual schools as well as full districts that have contracted a bin.
BCSD schools with a bin receive multiple benefits: one is it shows the district believes in a green program, and another is individual schools being able to show the overall impact of recycling as a whole.
“You are able to show how you give back to the community,” Boariu said.
Boariu said Clothes Bins’s biggest takeaway is just from the landfill – “we’re trying to make that smaller,” he said.
The schools get paid per pound of everything recycled in the bin, and that is where the fundraising comes in; they receive seven cents per pound that goes back into the school. The bins can hold 600 pounds, so a school could potentially make about $42 every time the bin reaches capacity.
Schools use the money for different items; some of the money is used as “cushion” money while others may go toward the school’s PTO (see the full list of schools with a bin below).
The clothes provided into the Clothes Bins go on to provide inventory for local thrift stores – which is where the recycling part comes in.
“Our biggest thing is there’s always another use,” Boariu said. “Once it goes into a landfill, that’s it.”
Many of BCSD’s schools fall into the territory of Mary Anna Lewis, owner of Lowcountry Textile Recycling. A majority of the schools within the territory were offered a bin, and the first set of bins were set up in May 2019.
Lewis stressed that these clothes are recycled to help local businesses.
“It’s recycling. It’s (being) stewards of the community, it’s fundraising for the schools,” she said.
Boariu and Lewis said they are not discouraging residents from donating used clothes to charities of their choice, but the Clothes Bins model is one that results in a direct effect on the students and administration in that particular school.
A lot of the clothes collected also go to impoverished areas of other countries, like the Dominican Republican and Uganda, where locals can sell the items in their own markets.
“It’s going to third-world countries to marketplace vendors who are feeding their families off of reselling this stuff,” Lewis said.
Clothes Bins has also previously gone into schools to promote the educational aspect of it to students, to show them how they can create business partnerships to help the earth and also provide jobs for families.
BCSD schools use the funds they receive for different items. Hanahan High Principal Tom Gallus said his school puts it in its miscellaneous activity account and use it for supplies for staff and students.
“If there is a student in need, we will use this account to supply them with supplies,” he said.
Whitesville Elementary Principal Katie Taie said her school has been very happy with Clothes Bins. The school uses the funds to supplement field trip costs for parents, and for providing arts performances and enrichment activities for students. The PTO receives the funds and then provides financial support for those experiences.
Whitesville reminds parents through social media and Blackboard to “clean out” their closets when school administration notices upcoming teacher requests.
“Clothes Bin has benefited our school the most by allowing us to decrease the amount of money that we ask parents to spend for additional activities,” Taie said. “Over the past couple of years, we saw a substantial increase in the cost of buses for field experiences and needed to find a way to supplement that burden for our parents.”
Sangaree Elementary Principal Tara Baker said the school has raised a little less than $100 and all funds right now are in the school’s business partner account. She plans to put out a blurb to remind families to provide textiles if they can.
“We would love to raise more (money) to purchase additional personalized learning materials,” she said.
Schools with a bin
Boulder Bluff Elementary
Bowens Corner Elementary
Cane Bay Elementary
Cane Bay High
Cane Bay Middle
College Park Elementary
College Park Middle
Goose Creek Elementary
Goose Creek High
Philip Simmons Elementary
Philip Simmons High
Philip Simmons Middle
At the regular meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday, October 27, the Board approved revisions to the Berkeley County School District (BCSD) instructional calendar to add four half-day virtual instructional program (VIP) days for students. Teachers will use the second half of those four days as workdays.
On these VIP days, students will be learning from home independently for half of the day. All student assignments will be loaded to Google Classroom and/or other learning management systems by 7 a.m.
BCSD half-day VIP/teacher workdays
- Thursday, November 12, 2020
- Monday, December 7, 2020
- Tuesday, December 22, 2020
- Monday, May 10, 2021
To further support students, each teacher will set office hours that are posted or will be posted in Google Classroom and/or other learning management systems.
Much like the eLearning days of the 2019-20 school year, teachers will have the flexibility to use time not spent assisting students to work in their classrooms, with their teams or participate in personal professional development.
Again, this is a remote learning day, and all students will be learning from home independently.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the school.