CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – There’s been a push by many Charleston County School District (CCSD) teachers to delay their return to classrooms as state and local leaders try to get a handle on COVID-19 cases. More than 1,500 teachers have signed a petition to start class virtually this fall.
Concerns from teachers including Leanna Rossi-Potter, a teacher with CCSD, range from safety of students and staff, to the consequences of heading straight to in-person schooling, and simply not having their voices be heard.
“We all take our work home with us but I do not want to take a virus home to my family,” says Rossi-Potter.
CCSD is eyeing a blended and delayed start to the school year offering in-person and virtual classes. Some teachers believe the plan is missing a crucial option including Megan Barbee, a teacher a James Island Charter High School.
“Our position is an on-time, virtual start to school district wide,” says Barbee, one of the petition’s creators.
The teachers believe a restart plan with one-hundred percent virtual and online classes should be implemented until COVID-19 numbers in Charleston County are under control and the risks are mitigated.
“According to those DHEC metrics, we’re very concerned about sending a volatile populations of students and teachers into that environment,” says Barbee.
Just last Monday a petition began circulating, a week later the petition has received over 1,500 signatures from CCSD staff, representing a quarter of the district’s employees and nearly 50% of it’s teachers.
“I think how teaches say okay yeah we have this avenue, hopefully we can use this avenue to express our voices,” says Rossi-Potter.
Students, parents and teachers all hoping for a set plan to be decided on soon so they can begin preparing for what lies ahead. Rossi-Potter says the start for teachers could be just over three weeks away.
“But I think what teachers are concerned with is we go back to work in twenty two days and we need to know what to plan for,” says Rossi-Potter.
Answers could come as early as Monday night when the CCSD board meets to discuss the plan. Barbee is hoping the option laid out in the petition will be considered during the meeting.
“We might have a first semester virtual and then be able to prepare to return to in-person learning as soon as possible, that’s what we want ultimately,” says Barbee.
In a statement regarding the petition, the school district says, “Thorough teacher input is vital to a safe, thoughtful, and quality return to in-person and/or virtual instruction for our students. CCSD will continue to engage our educators during this challenging yet critical process because we appreciate their valuable insight and experience.”
“We understand we all must remain flexible due to this pandemic, but every decision we make will respect the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”