S.C. Dept. of Education supports more students returning to classroom

Updated: Nov. 10, 2020 at 4:50 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston area lawmaker believes it’s too soon for school districts to begin allowing more students in the classroom.

This comes after Charleston and Berkeley counties plan to allow more students to return to face-to-face instruction on Wednesday.

State Representative Wendell Gilliard wrote a letter to State Superintendent Molly Spearman on Monday saying he is concerned about more students learning face-to-face.

“Therefore, I ask that your office intervene and request that each school superintendent show with a medical and scientific conclusion that it is safe to take this type of action before placing more of our students and their parents, teachers and staff in harm’s way before a safe and proven vaccine is available for distribution to everyone,” Gilliard said in the letter.

The South Carolina Department of Education Chief Communications Officer Ryan Brown says they support schools allowing more students in the classroom.

“We know that not every child can learn as well virtually as they can in-person," Brown said. "Our goal is to get as many students and staff back as normal conditions as possible as safely as possible.”

Brown says 4.4 percent of all COVID cases in the state since September are from schools totaling just over 2,500 cases. He says they believe that school districts across the state have done a tremendous job of returning students and staff to face-to-face instruction, and they will continue to support their efforts with the tools and resources at their disposal.

"We should never allow our kids to go into an environment where we know it’s dangerous and we understand the fact that some children with come down with COVID-19, pass it on to their parents, pass it on to the teachers,” Gilliard said.

The Charleston County School District spokesperson Andy Pruitt said just over 5,000 students will return to the classroom on Wednesday. That means 70 percent of students will be back learning in-person in total.

The district says parents want their children to learn face-to-face and that it’s a not a mandate to return.

Students still have a virtual learning options in Lowcountry school districts.

In Berkeley County, district officials say 1,794 students have been approved to return to in-person classes on Wednesday.

Dorchester County spokesperson Pat Raynor says they will continue their hybrid learning through Thanksgiving. They do not plan to allow more students to return to the classroom before then.

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