COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Tuesday, education advocacy group, SC for Ed will hold two separate demonstrations.
They will be gathering outside of two Midlands school district offices as many districts continue finalizing reopening plans for this fall.
These events won’t look anything like the SC for Ed “All Out” rally we saw last year, when an estimated 10,000 people showed up, on foot, to march around the State House in support of education reform.
Instead, the group is organizing what are called “Motor Marches” where participants are being asked to stay inside their vehicles and wear masks. The message is “Virtual Until Safe,” encouraging all South Carolina school districts to continue with eLearning until COVID-19 numbers improve.
The demonstration outside of the Richland School District Two office will be a show of support, as that district has announced plans to at least start out the school year virtually. That begins at 6 p.m.
As we await details on reopening plans for the School District of Newberry County, SC for Ed organizers say that demonstration, beginning at 1 p.m., will be more of a show of concern.
Getting both sides of this debate, WIS is hearing from one Midlands parent who says she’s confident her 8-year-old son is capable of learning to wear a mask and social distance. Brandi Powell wants her children back inside the classroom after she says eLearning did not work for her family.
“It was not happening. He would not do the work for me. He would not sit down. I, literally, was having to help do his work. I was sitting there having to help write it out. He was not learning. The last, however many weeks – six weeks of eLearning – I know that my children didn’t learn anything,” said Powell.
“The reality is, in South Carolina, we have a teacher shortage,” Richland School District Two teacher, Kristen McGuire, said. “We have a substitute shortage and we have a lot of teachers who have pre-existing conditions or who are technically retired and could walk off the job tomorrow. So, while it is true that children seem to be less affected, the people who are teaching them are not.”
McGuire also says unlike the emergency eLearning we saw this past spring, teachers will be required this fall to follow the standards and pacing guidelines set by the state. She says it’s time to face reality and accept the science. McGuire is also a parent and says she’s glad her children will be starting out the year virtually.
“I could not live with myself if I sent them to school and something happened to one of them or if they unknowingly transmitted something to one of their teachers or another adult in the building. We all want to be teaching five days a week and try to resume our life as we knew it before this, but just right at this moment, it doesn’t seem possible,” said McGuire.
Powell tells WIS that she’s a fitness instructor.
“Did I want to go back to work? No, but I have a responsibility. I have a job,” Powell said. “I have to do things. I get teachers are at the brunt of it, too, but so are nurses and they’re not quitting their jobs. They’re going to work.”
SC for Ed has plans to hold demonstrations at multiple school district offices throughout this week, and this is all leading up to its full Action Week.
There’s an event planned for every day next week, some engaging people online and there will also be more motor marches.