Berkeley Co. teachers hold drive-by protest, call for virtual-only school start

VIDEO: Berkeley Co. teachers hold drive-by protest, call for virtual-only school start

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - About 100 teachers protested from their vehicles and the sidewalk in front of the Berkeley County School District headquarters Tuesday evening.

“I’ve been teaching for 25 years and this is the first year I am terrified to go in my classroom,” Berkeley County teacher Vonna Jordan said. “We’re not guinea pigs. You can’t test it out on us. We are real people. I want to live.”

Many teachers are critical of the school district’s plans to reopen classrooms this fall. Instead, demonstrators want to see the school year start virtually until COVID case numbers are reduced.

“It’s important for people to know that if we go virtual, we can keep them safe at home instead of sick in school,” Berkeley County teacher Deanna Harrell said.

The BCSD Motor March started at Berkeley Middle School at 6 p.m. and wound its way down East Main Street, so school board members, who were meeting inside the district building, could hear teachers honking their car horns.

Teachers who participated said they are worried about what returning for in-person instruction will mean for their health and their careers. They also feel like the district isn’t doing enough to protect educators.

“They gave us three choices. Basically, I’m coming back full time, I’ve got a medical issue and a doctor can sign for me, or I resign,” Berkeley County teacher Stevie Shirey said. “That was really just kind of a slap in the face.”

The state superintendent of education has already approved the Berkeley County School District’s reopening plan that offers parents a traditional five day face to face instruction option, a blended distance option and an all virtual option.

Teachers say they want the same options.

“I want us to have the same rights as the students,” Berkeley County teacher Heide Kenyon said. “I want to be able to choose to work from home or online until we know more about the coronavirus or a vaccine is created.”

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