South Carolina – South Carolina school districts might soon be allowed to mandate students and teachers to wear masks or face coverings as teachers, nurses and pediatricians call South Carolina lawmakers to repeal the mask mandate ban in the state.
This comes after the latest data shows increasing number of infected students and school employees with Covid-19 in every part across South Carolina.
“By not allowing districts to make masking and safety decisions, the legislators are responsible for the interruptions that this has caused in our day-to-day operations,” South Carolina Educators Association President Sherry East said.
After just a month since the start of the school year, tens of thousands of students and teachers were affected by the virus one way or another which resulted in interruptions in the teaching process.
According to the DHEC, the total number of infected people or probable cases in schools has reached 22,490 people, 20,936 students and 1,554 staff.
Meanwhile, 88,661 people — 86,770 students and 1,891 staff — have quarantined because they have been a close contact of someone who is infected.
These number are confirmed by the schools, but the number are probably much higher in reality, experts say.
“Our primary care pediatricians are overwhelmed and struggling to keep up with the number of sick kids in South Carolina,” Dr. Deborah Greenhouse, a Columbia pediatrician, said.
Greenhouse joined other members of the South Carolina chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the South Carolina Association of School Nurses, the South Carolina Parent Teacher Association, the South Carolina Educators Association, and the Palmetto State Teachers Association on Tuesday to demand lawmakers return decision-making control regarding masks and virtual learning back to districts and schools.
“We want the local school boards to make the decision that is best for their local community. The general assembly is not a super school board,” PSTA Executive Director Kathy Maness said.
According to the teachers, allowing school districts to implement mask mandates in school across the state will not just keep the student safe, but will also affect the general Covid-19 situation and numbers lower in general. Furthermore, that way the teaching process will not be interrupted, something that everyone is aiming for following the last pandemic year.
“What students are getting right now is a disrupted, inconsistent learning model that is hard on teachers, that is hard on students, and it is hard on families,” PSTA Director of Government Affairs Patrick Kelly said.
“Those two or three students that are quarantined this week, next week, it’s a different two or three students that are quarantined. There’s not a break. It becomes more of a revolving door. So there’s not a lull in the action for our teachers. They’re consistently having to work with students who are not in the classroom, and that is incredibly taxing and frustrating on our teaching force,” Lexington County School District One Superintendent Greg Little added.