CHARLESTON, S.C. (WBCD) – State lawmakers are calling on South Carolina schools to return to in-person learning with COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the state.
State representatives say virtual learning isn’t as effective for students and are concerned students could be falling behind. The Charleston County School District returned to in-person learning this week, they say it came with minimal challenges. Other districts are remaining outside of the building, state legislators say it’s a decision that could cause students to miss out.
“Like I’ve got a son in 3rd grade and a daughter in 6th grade. Man, you don’t get 3rd grade back alright you don’t get 3rd grade back,” says South Carolina State Representative Shane Massey.
A strong push to get back to the desk and in front of white boards, lawmakers say virtual learners are falling behind.
“We’ve got to have children in the classroom and in fact I think if we have districts that are not looking at doing that, we’re going to have to push him,” says State Representative Massey.
Charleston County saw students return in-person this week after the holiday break. Spokesman Andy Pruitt says it’s been a smooth operation with new case numbers remaining fairly steady.
“We had the medical community chime in and they have not recommending shutting down schools,” says Pruitt. “They have shown that there is minimal spread of the virus inside the schools, that it is happening outside in the community.”
One problem standing in the way is concerns over teacher safety when in the classroom. State Representative Todd Rutherford says teachers should be next in line to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
“And so, if we can get teachers vaccinated that should help us push the issue to make these schools to get reopened and get kids back in them as quick as possible,” says Representative Rutherford.
State Representative Massey believes educating students during the pandemic is a community effort.
“I would encourage South Carolinians to step up and volunteer to be substitute teachers because it is going to take them substitute teaching in order to keep the schools open,” says Representative Massey.
Lawmakers are pointing to the science. They say studies show spread of the virus in the classroom is minimal when the right protocols are in place.
“If we can have them in the classroom and do it safely, they’ve got to be safe,” says Representative Massey. “But if we can do this safely, we’ve got to get them back in the classroom.”
State legislators will return to Columbia next week. They say if school districts chose to delay a return to in-person learning they could take action to force school districts to reconsider.