CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston County School District’s students returned to in-person classes on Monday. CCSD teachers and parents are now speaking out against the decision.
Leanna Rossi-Potter is a representative from SC for Ed and a spokesperson for numerous educators from the Charleston County School District.
“I think our number 1 concern for all of us right now is our health and safety. We can’t educate these children to the best of our abilities if our health and safety is a concern,” says Rossi-Potter.
She says many of her colleagues are not comfortable returning to the classroom right now; especially with COVID-19 cases rising in the Charleston area.
Last week, CCSD parents received a letter with information about the return to school on January 4th. It was at that time that CCSD teachers learned that parents have the option to keep their child at home this week if they felt that was the safest option.
“We didn’t know that until the public knew. And that was disheartening because we were not part of that conversation or that decision-making,” she says.
After the first day back to in-person learning, she has spoken with a number of elementary school teachers who saw dozens of empty chairs in their classrooms. She wishes educators were given the same option to stay home if they didn’t feel comfortable returning to the classroom.
At the same time, Lowcountry parents are also concerned with both the safety of their students and their teachers.
“My heart really goes out to these teachers who are working so hard. Many of them have children in the school system that they’re worried about. And they’re having to worry about their health and well-being and I do feel that it’s being completely overlooked,” says a CCSD parent.
A parent who wished to remain anonymous told News 2 that all 3 of her children tested positive for COVID-19 over winter break. Her fear is that the data on CCSD’S website does not reflect the actual amount of cases in the district.
“It’s really been quite shameful. I think there’s a huge lack of transparency. I felt as though the cases at 1 specific school that my children attend were really being swept under the rug,” she says.
District officials are now responding to these concerns. Jeff Borowy, CEO of CCSD, says the data is accurate and will continue to update as the schoolyear progresses.
“We have not left out a single case we have received. They are all on the dashboard,” he says, “until we’ve been back in school for a while, there are maybe cases that haven’t been reported of kids who haven’t been back in school.”
He says despite concerns brought to the district by parents and teachers, he believes that they have done everything they can for a safe return to the classroom.
“When we compare what we have in our schools — the protocols in place, I would argue that school is a safer place to be compared to other places around the county,” says Borowy.
Right now, parents and teachers say they are still hoping that the district will consider returning to virtual learning until case numbers decline and teachers receive the vaccine.