COLUMBIA, S.C. — As COVID-19 numbers continue to surge in schools, teachers across the nation fear not only for their students' safety but also their own. They're the men and women teaching the next generation of leaders.
Two Calhoun County teachers say many teachers across the state are stressed and filled with anxiety as COVID numbers rise in schools. "We have excitement because we're all back together, but it is stress times 10," said Calhoun County High School teacher Dawn Gressette.
Teachers on the front lines say it's a struggle to stay ahead of the pandemic in classrooms as COVID numbers surge.
"Teaching has always been share your knowledge and your excitement and passion with the student. Now, we're sharing our knowledge, excitement passion with the student, constantly saying back up stay away, put your mask on," Gressette says.
"I don't know who's had it or who hasn't. I don't know who might be feeling poorly but still came to work, still came to school," Gressette says.
Gressette says while she loves being back in-person, there's an underlying fear COVID-19 could bring tragedy to her classroom. "I always wonder if the student that was here last week that's out this week, will they be back next week? Will I see them again?"
Tiandra Heyward from St. Matthews K8, says she teaches the babies of the school, those in 4K. She says, "With them not being able to move as much, them not being able to work with their peers like they usually would, that's been kinda hard."
"In the 4K classrooms, everyone has to have their own materials. There's no sharing of anything, and that's been a little difficult to prepare for," Heyward says.
Heyward says the hardest thing is patience. "Things take a little bit more time. You have to make sure everybody has their mask, have to make sure everybody has their own materials and in their own space."
According to the Palmetto State Teachers Association, teachers' greatest concern is safety. Spokesperson Patrick Kelly says, "There's a lot of concern for student health and safety right now. A lot of concern that the impact of quarantines are having on student academics as we have literally thousands of students in our state that are quarantined right now."
On August 26th, Calhoun County school district reported 24 positive students and three staff, with 145 students in quarantine.