HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s announcement about in-person learning for school districts in the fall has been receiving mixed reviews.
During a news conference Wednesday morning, McMaster said he wants the school districts to give parents the choice between face-to-face instruction or virtual instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.
One Horry County parent said he’s been waiting to hear this all summer, while one South Carolina teacher has some concerns.
“The governor’s clear, the kids need to be here,” said River Oaks Elementary parent Sean Hoelscher. “If their parents don’t want them to, then that’s fine, but what goes on inside the building should be the decision of the school board. I’d support any means necessary.”
Like many parents in the Horry County School District, Hoelscher filled out a survey a few weeks ago to see how parents would want schools to resume classes in case students can’t be on campus five days a week. Parents were given two options: virtual learning or hybrid learning, where students would be on campus certain days and then learn from home on the other days.
Herscher felt like the face-to-face everyday option should have been on the survey.
“We have jobs,” said Hoelscher. “We’re not teachers. There’s no way we can act and function as a teacher in a distance learning scenario. There’s no way to expect kids to figure out, ‘Is it Monday, am I going to class? Or, is it Tuesday, am I home with mom?’ Is one kid at home on one day? Is one kid at home on the other?”
McMaster agrees and urged school systems do away with the hybrid option, instead offering both an every day on-campus option and an all distance learning option for parents who don’t feel comfortable.
Sherry East, a high school teacher in Rock Hill and president of the South Carolina Education Association, has some concerns with that approach.
“When we get to a point when we’re not increasing cases, then maybe we should think about face-to-face every day, but until we get to that point, I think it’s risky, and I don’t think it’s worth risking one person’s life until it’s safe,” said East.
East says the CDC recommends a six to eight-foot perimeter around each student in a classroom to keep them from spreading a virus.
She’s not sure how schools across the state will make that happen without an A-B day or hybrid approach.
From a teacher’s standpoint, she has another major concern.
“The other big question that administrators or teachers have been asking is, ‘What if we go out on quarantine,‘” said East. “What if one of my students gets COVID and we go out on quarantine? What does that look like in the classroom? Are we all out for 10 days? What are we doing?”
East said she hopes that if one good thing can come out of this whole pandemic, is that hopefully, it has brought to light the digital divide and the inequities in students having ample access to online resources.