S.C. Superintendent backs Phase 1A Senate bill, teachers aren’t convinced they’ll get vaccinated

S.C. Superintendent backs Phase 1A Senate bill, teachers aren’t convinced they’ll get vaccinated

FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) - South Carolina Superintendent Molly Spearman says 58 percent of public school teachers are ready to get their vaccine when it is available.

She says that number is not enough. Superintendent Spearman says the state will use education and incentives to convince more teachers to get the vaccine.

Spearman says the state is working on using videos and information. She is also leaning on community members to show the vaccine’s safety and importance.

She feels a third of teachers will take a lot of convincing and still might not be convinced. That is where she hopes some of the incentives will help. What those incentives will be is unclear.

“I do think there’s some work that needs to be done in relieving the anxiety. I certainly understand that in some of our populations,” says Spearman.

WBTV asked the Department of Education’s spokesperson Ryan Brown how many teachers in WBTV’s South Carolina school districts want the vaccines.

This is the breakdown:

  • York District One, Chesterfield, Rock Hill, Clover, Lancaster: between 55-65%
  • Fort Mill: 81%
  • Chester: 30%

Spearman says teachers do not have to be vaccinated before going into schools though. She does say it is quote critical, so schools do not have to close for not having enough teachers and staff.

It might only be 58 percent, but those teachers in that percentage wanted to be vaccinated now. However, for the teachers, now is looking more like never.

”I support teachers and educators be given priority in the vaccination immediately,” says Spearman.

It is not a requirement to open schools, but “critical to protecting teachers.”

“We need to change those classification systems so that our teachers get those shots that they need to get,” says Senator Margie Bright Matthews.

Senators already showed they agreed when they voted to move teachers to Phase 1A. Both sides continue to talk about what should happen, but stuck in the middle are teachers who want action.

”Talk doesn’t help anyone, talk doesn’t make schools safer, talk doesn’t make sure teachers are not bringing COVID back to their family members,” says Katie Harris, who teaches at Fort Mill Elementary School.

She says this is not the time for politicians and state leaders to drag their feet.

”The issue with this is that this if not dealt with quickly is killing people. This is a health concern. This is a pandemic and a crisis,” says Harris.

She is not seen a vaccine plan or timeline. Only pressure to go back to class before the school year ends. It is looking more likely getting a vaccine before getting back into the classroom is what she calls lip service.

”Teachers have enough on our plates. Add to that fighting for our health and safety. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating, devastating, all of it,” she says.

WBTV reached out to Brown and asked what sort of plan the state has to vaccinate teachers when it is their time. Here is what they have:

Depending on the size of the district and the approved vaccine provider, the following four scenarios are the possible ways educators and staff will receive their vaccination once eligible.

  1. Vaccine provider handles everything (set up of vaccine event with all vaccine provider staff at the school(s) or at vaccine provider locations (i.e.Dr. Offices, hospital, pharmacy, etc)); or,
  2. Vaccine provider and the district conduct a vaccine event together (Vaccine provider provides the vaccine with proper storage and manpower while district staff is used for documenting those receiving shots and monitoring persons for side effects); or,
  3. Vaccine provider provides the vaccine only and school nurses and other personnel vaccinate staff; or,
  4. Vaccine provider helps coordinate several small districts to come together at a centralized community center or location and the vaccine provider provides the vaccines with or without district staff assisting.

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