Georgetown NAACP push for virtual learning among school safety concerns

VIDEO: Georgetown NAACP push for virtual learning among school safety concerns

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The NAACP branches in Georgetown and Andrews are concerned about school reopening plans in the Georgetown County School District.

The branch is pushing for virtual learning. They say in-person learning would put families at risk.

Members of the branches gathered in front of the school district headquarters on Church Street on Tuesday morning.

They say they are worried about a coronavirus outbreak if students and staff return to in person learning.

The president of the Georgetown NAACP branch, Neal Marvin, says he doesn't want the health of staff and students to be jeopardy.

“Once our health fails it doesn’t come back,” Neal said. “The economy will always come back at some time. It will come back. The voice of our parents, healthcare professionals must lead in this decision making. Those who make the decisions, it needs to be the demographic of the school district.”

The school district established a reopening taskforce with various stakeholders including school staff, parents, teachers and more. The district says each school also has a taskforce as well.

The taskforce will present recommendations for the upcoming school year at a board meeting next Tuesday. The taskforce is discussing in-person, virtual and hybrid options.

"How many more people in the United States, South Carolina, Georgetown are going to die, going to die, because a lack of common sense?" Neal said.

Parent Ebony Hughes, who also serves on the reopening taskforce, says while her child misses playing sports at school, safety is the priority.

“It is nerve racking not knowing what’s going to happen,” she said. “My son is an athlete, he has told me he is concerned with playing ball, so am I. Some kids, that is their only reason for coming to school we understand that. But first thing is first, and that is their health. My son understands that it’s his health first.”

The new superintendent for the school district, Keith Price, says they are planning to have an all virtual option. He says they are also working to expand internet access in the district.

"I absolutely echo those concerns about the safety of our student, our employees, as well as those family members that everyone goes home to at the end of the day," Price said. "Health and safety has been a driving focus for all of our work both from the people who are serving on our task force and those who are contributing to it as well."

Price says they are following guidance from the state’s Accelerate ED Taskforce, the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while determining school plans.

"Unfortunately it's probably going to be impossible to come up with one plan that's going to make everyone happy, it's a difficult time," Price said.

Price says plans will continue to adapt following the recommendations that will come out next week.

The NAACP branches say they believe virtual learning is the best option until virus case loads decrease.

They also talked about the disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 among African Americans and called for more representation of minorities including Latinos on the reopening taskforce.

The district says about 44 percent of their students are African American and about 6 percent is Hispanic.

The safety director of the school said in a survey that about 45 percent of parents said they didn't feel comfortable sending their children back to school.

Everybody can’t speak for our children. The survey he’s talking about, it went out to the community and guess what, the majority of the minority community don’t have broadband which is a challenge. They don’t have access to the internet,” Neal said.

While some other school districts are meeting virtually, the Georgetown County School District met in person on Tuesday morning. Temperature checks are required for those who attend.

The Georgetown County School District has a new survey for parents and teachers where they can give feedback on reopening plans until Friday.

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