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Press Release

The SCEA Calls on Legislators to Keep Students and Educators Safe

Legislators must prioritize student health and safety over political rhetoric and follow the advice of medical experts.
Published: 08/06/2021

Key Takeaways

  1. The SCEA members are alarmed about the highly contagious nature of the Delta strain and increasing COVID infections in South Carolina just as students return to school in the fall.
  2. The Governor and Legislators have limited the ability of local leaders and school districts to make the best decisions for the health and safety of their community.
  3. The SCEA members should contact legislators and insist the legislature protect the safety of our students and provide districts with the freedom they need to make the best possible decisions for local communities.

COLUMBIA — Educators are eager for a safe return to in-person learning this fall. However, COVID-19 remains a threat to the health and safety of students, school staff, and community. Members of The South Carolina Education Association (The SCEA) believe students deserve safe schools.

“Educators are excited to return to the classroom and begin a new year,” The SCEA President Sherry East said. “However, our members want to be sure that teaching and learning conditions are safe.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently confirmed that “the Delta variant is more contagious than previous COVID-19 strains and may cause more than twice as many infections."   

The highly contagious nature of the Delta strain and increasing COVID infections in South Carolina just before students return to school is alarming. In addition, a vaccine for youth under the age of 12 is not yet available, meaning most students will return to the classroom unvaccinated.

Children are relying on adults in power to make decisions that will ensure a safe learning environment. As a result, school districts must make decisions about to how to mitigate the spread and, in the process, protect the lives of the young people and communities they serve.

The SCEA calls on decision makers in communities and school districts to employ every tool they have to guarantee that in-person learning can happen safely this fall.

“Unfortunately, districts have been hamstrung by the governor and the state legislature,” East said, “It is absurd that due to restrictions placed on funding by our General Assembly, districts are forced to ignore the guidance from medical experts such as DHEC, the CDC, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

The guidance from experts includes a combination of masking, appropriate ventilation, social distancing, diligent hygiene and handwashing, as well as vaccinations for all who are eligible. In combination, these measures will protect communities and provide a safe working and learning environment that allows us not just to return to in-person learning but to keep our schools open.

The SCEA further believes that if parents are to be empowered to make decisions for their students, districts need to have the power to make options available. The restriction that limits virtual learning programs to no more than 5% of a district’s student population limits parental choice.

The SCEA urges members to immediately share their concerns with their state legislators and to insist the legislature protect the safety of our students, families, and educators by working together to provide districts with the freedom they need to make the best possible decisions for their local communities.

For more information about mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant in schools, read the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here.

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The SCEA is an affiliate of the largest professional association of educators in the country. As the leading advocate for the schools South Carolina students deserve, The SCEA works to promote quality public education and to support public school employees.