COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Education is the biggest topic on everyone’s minds as we approach just a few weeks from what would normally be the start of the school year.
The Child Services and PPE subcommittee met Wednesday afternoon with two goals: to find the children school’s have not been able to contact and sending students back to school safely.
“10,410 children have not had contact with anyone since March 16,” said Senator Shealy. “10,410 with no education content.”
South Carolina lawmakers are concerned about the welfare of our children, which is why they met to locate what lawmakers are calling “missing children.”
Senator Gerald Malloy of Child Service’s and PPE Subcommittee says, “What is the plan now to get those ten not what we have done, but what is going to be done now.”
State Superintendent Molly Spearman says individual districts are tasked right now with providing the names and addresses of those students, a list due as early as next week. Reaching those missing students is the subcommittees first goal.
Afterwards, members want to get students physically back in school. Medical professionals want unique data concerning the spread of COVID-19 and children to be considered.
“Studies show that children are less likely to become infected and less likely to spread the infection, something that’s important to keep in mind when considering our teachers and staff,” said Dr. Deborah Greenhouse, SC American Academy of Pediatrics.
Pediatricians also stressed the importance of in person learning to a child’s growth socially and emotionally.
“This morning I had two suicidal patients in office in the last 24 hours I’m not talking about teenagers, these are 8, 9, and 10 year olds saying they don’t want to be here anymore because they’re so isolated,” said Dr. Greenhouse.
How to locate missing students and getting kids back in school physically will be worked out by the committee and appropriate state agencies, but all agree that returning to in-person learning is crucial.
“These suicidal 8 and 9 year olds, if we don’t open the schools, some of them will succeed,” said Dr. Greenhouse.
According to medical professionals closing bars, statewide mask requirements, and closing indoor dining again are three ways the state can help reduce the spread and get children back in school.
The Department of Education reported that in a normal year the state sees around 70,000 truant students.