HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Teachers are praising the South Carolina state Senate after it passed a bill that would allow teachers to get their COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1a of the state’s distribution plan.
Members of multiple teaching organizations said the move is a step in the right direction. The bill would allow teachers to get their shot, and in return, they would go back to five days of face-to-face instruction.
“We felt like the senators really heard our concerns,” Nicole Walker with SC for Ed said. “We’re looking forward to the House picking this up and hopefully getting us vaccinated soon.”
Gov. Henry McMaster has made it clear he doesn’t support the bill.
In a tweet, the governor said, “If we allow teachers to jump the line, we are taking vaccines from our most vulnerable population who are dying from this virus. That is unethical, immoral and absolutely unacceptable.”
Teachers like Sherry East with the S.C. Education Association disagree.
“I think it’s becoming very clear where the governor stands with public education right now, and it’s just not acceptable for us that we have a governor that won’t put public education as his priority in South Carolina,” East said.
Many opponents of the bill believe teachers think they’re more deserving of the vaccine than seniors. Patrick Kelly with the Palmetto State Teachers Association said that’s simply not the case.
“This issue is not as simple as just ‘We need to vaccinate educators because they’re afraid,’” Kelly said. “Everybody during a pandemic is anxious and fearful, and that’s not a valid reason to prioritize vaccination of any group. The reason we need to prioritize vaccination of our educators is to ensure that when our schools open five days face-to-face across the state as everyone wants, that they operate in a manner that is effective and instructionally sound for all of our students.”
McMaster’s office did not reply to a request from WMBF News about whether he would veto the bill if it made it to his desk.