COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina teachers group says they're "categorically opposed" to Gov. Henry McMaster's plan to reopen schools for in-person instruction in the fall.
The Palmetto State Teacher's Association issued a statement following a news conference Wednesday morning by the governor where he outlined his plan to reopen state schools.
"We applaud the Governor’s call for districts to move back their scheduled start date until after Labor Day, as we believe this will give our state more time to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in our state," the group said in part. "However, we also believe that if health conditions do not improve, it would be irresponsible and dangerous to require a return to full in-person instruction."
McMaster said schools should open for five day a week in person instruction when class resumes and offer a virtual option as well. He's given school districts statewide until Friday, July 17 to come up with those plans. He said any plan that doesn't call for an in-person option will be rejected.
He also said school districts should consider pushing back the start of school until September 8.
But the teachers association said the governor's plan has no regard for the current pandemic, pointing to the spread of the virus in recent weeks.
"We believe this action would needlessly jeopardize the health and safety of our state’s 800,000 students and more than 50,000 teachers," the group said.
They suggest getting the numbers under control would help a return.
"While the members of PSTA desperately want to return to in-person instruction at the earliest possible time, the continued high rate of spread of the coronavirus poses a significant, and potentially deadly, health risk for students and staff. As a result, our organization strongly agrees with Senator Peeler’s statement that what we need is a “safe return” to school. In order to achieve that safe return, we believe districts should follow the recommendations of the AccelerateED task force. According to that report, schools should operate in a distance learning model as long as the rate of spread of COVID-19, as measured by DHEC, is “high” in a county. Currently, 45 of our 46 counties fall into that category.
"We hope that our state leaders will take the steps necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state. Once we achieve that goal, a return to in-person instruction is what is best for students and desired by teachers. Until that time, such an action needlessly endangers the health of our state’s most precious resource- our children"