BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) -The mayor of Hanahan is disappointed in the decision by the Berkeley County School Board to force students into virtual school from Dec. 22 to Jan. 11.
Dec. 22 was already a virtual day and the last day of school. Students will return to school on Jan. 4 and will be learning virtually for that week. According to district officials, on Jan. 11 which is a Monday, students who were previously in face-to-face classes will return to those traditional learning classes.
In a letter sent to board members, Mayor Christie Rainwater said parents need to be able to make the choice of in-person or virtual school based on what works best for their families.
“The vote made last night took away freedom. Families can no longer choose what is best. This is [the] very principle that our country is founded on,” Rainwater wrote.
She says the decision impacts more than just schools. It could impact parents who will have to weigh the decision of going to work against supervising their child doing virtual school.
“For instance, with the city of Hanahan we have police and fire. They can’t just not show up for work. They can’t just school their children at home. This negatively affects families,” Rainwater said in an interview on Wednesday. “And for some, they’re going to figure it out but it’s really the ones that are most vulnerable that are already in difficult positions that this is so much harder for.”
She is also concerned about the long-term effect of an unstable situation on children.
“With the vaccine literally being shipped, hopefully within days, we are really heading towards the end of this and so to create more inconsistency. . . kids thrive in stability,” Rainwater said. “Suddenly switching to virtual and then coming back, I’m not exactly sure what this is going to look like but it’s definitely going to rock some boats.”
The discussion to switch to virtual school was added to the agenda late. Berkeley County School Board Member Mac McQuillin said he only heard about a day before the meeting.
Rainwater says big decisions like this should be given plenty of time so community members can properly weigh in.
“I ask you to reconsider your vote last night. I ask you to provide freedom for every Berkeley County family to make the best decision for them,” Rainwater wrote to the school board.
As of Wednesday night, none of the school board members who supported the move to virtual learning have responded to Rainwater’s letter.