CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Many Lowcountry teachers are nervous to return to their classrooms this fall as school districts outline possible plans to reopen in August amid rising cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina.
“It’s just this whole tumble of thoughts about the unrealistic expectations about what we are going to be able to achieve as teachers within these parameters,” Berkeley County teacher Mary Sue Worthy said.
“There’s a lot of older people with a lot of underlying health issues,” Worthy said. “A lot of bus drivers with underlying health issue. And people’s bar for this disease being dangerous is death. How many deaths in a school is it going to take for it be…disruptive, never mind, tragic, horrifying, and something that is going to traumatize kids further.”
Many Lowcountry teachers say they are anxious about returning in August as state and federal leaders rush to reopen schools.
Meanwhile, advocates for teachers are calling for lessons to return to virtual classrooms instead.
“The concept of getting back to a normal is all being put on the back of teachers and schools,” Berkeley County teacher Colleen Shoemaker said. “The push to do that shouldn’t rely on us.”
The stress teachers are experiencing is compounded by threats from the President that he may cut federal funding if schools are not opened.
“I’m so angry at how officials are handling this. I don’t understand the push to shove kids back to a normal that wasn’t working to begin with…we were in a dire crisis not having enough teachers, not having enough subs…not having enough custodial staff, not enough mental health providers in schools…not enough anything,” Berkeley County teacher Rachel Gamble said.
“Now, all of a sudden, I’m a bad guy because I’m afraid to go back to school, and I’m worried about my students in a different way than you’re worried about the students,” Gamble said.”And it’s infuriating to me to be treated that way and when someone threatens our funding which is already so below what it should be, it’s such a punch in the gut.”
School districts have been asked to submit their plans for the fall 20 days before the start of the school year.
Meanwhile, leaders for SC for Ed, a group that advocates for SC educators, argued a lack of funding since 2008 has made it impossible to maintain safe buildings and safe student to teacher ratios.