COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – Some educators are pushing back against the South Carolina governor after he said teachers shouldn’t be able to cut in front of the vaccine line.
Gov. Henry McMaster tweeted Sunday that it would be “unethical, immoral, and absolutely unacceptable” to let teachers jump the line and take vaccines from the most vulnerable population in the state.
This comes after some senators introduced a joint resolution at the South Carolina Statehouse that prioritizes teachers to get vaccinated.
If the resolution passes, it would require the Department of Health and Environmental Control to coordinate with the state Department of Education and implement a plan that will offer teachers and staff the opportunity to be fully vaccinated within 30 days.
Kathy Maness, the executive director of the Palmetto State Teachers Association, said if the governor wants students back in class five days a week, then teachers need to be vaccinated.
“I strongly disagree with the governor. He has been pushing for five days face-to-face, he’s got to make sure that our teachers are vaccinated,” Maness said.
Currently, teachers are in phase 1B along with other frontline essential workers.
The state is expected to reach that phase in early spring.
Maness said she’s concerned with the growing staffing shortages in schools due to medical leave and quarantine situations related to COVID.
“They may not necessarily get COVID-19, but they have been exposed whether it’s at school or outside of school,” she said.
However, McMaster continues to push back against the calls for teacher vaccinations to be moved to phase 1a.
While speaking to reporters Monday in the Lowcountry, he maintained pushing up teacher vaccinations is not the right thing to do.
“At the beginning, when this started we thought that schools would be super spreader places, but they are not,” McMaster told reporters. “They are among some of the safest places to be.”
Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, who represents Horry and Georgetown counties, also disagrees with the governor.
“There’s no reason why we can’t open schools safely and safely to me and others mean teachers getting vaccinated,” he said.
Goldfinch is a sponsor of SC bill S.516, which would require the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to move teachers and school staff into phase 1A.
Both DHEC officials and Governor McMaster have expressed opposition to the bill, which they believe would take “vaccines from our most vulnerable population who are dying from this virus.”
Still, Goldfinch said teachers are more exposed to the virus than the older population and have a greater potential to spread the virus.
“It is a false equivalency to believe or to imply that it’s unethical or immoral to vaccinate the spreaders who are taking the virus home to mom and dad as oppose to the people at home being careful,” Goldfinch said.
The Senate will read the bill a second time Tuesday. If approved, it will then move to the House.
According to edweek.org, currently, teachers in at least 26 states are eligible to get vaccinated.