YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) -A South Carolina teacher advocacy group, SCforEd, wants the state to go to virtual learning until they feel they are safe from COVID 19.
The state’s health agency says all 46 counties have high community spread. Meanwhile, more districts are moving toward more in-person learning.
These teachers are asking to put 100 percent virtual learning on the table. It is a request backed by guidance from the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) released back in the summer.
The group sent a letter addressing state leaders like Governor Henry McMaster and State Superintendent Molly Spearman.
The letter addresses the increasing hospitalization rate in the state.
It also calls the narrative of the “learning loss” during a global pandemic as choosing “misinformation over safety.”
The letter also says students and teachers are in harm’s way.
SCforEd Board Member Nicole Walker says teachers are not asking for schools to move virtually forever, only until it is safer to reopen.
She addressed how the letter talks about not reducing the spread is “irresponsible, dangerous and unacceptable.”
Walker says a safer path toward reopening could look like vaccines, less community spread and a statewide mask mandate.
”They feel powerless and they feel scared. People get into teaching because they want to positively affect the lives of children,” says Walker. “And they want the space to be able to do that safely.”
WBTV reached out to the Department of Education about the letter. A spokesperson, Ryan Brown, says there have been 7,500 positive cases in staff and students since September. That is a bit more than 3 percent of all South Carolina cases since that month.
He says “schools have demonstrated the ability to maintain safe, five days a week operations.”
The Education Department continues to urge districts to offer five days of face-to-face or virtual learning for parents.