SC senators, officials discuss reopening schools safely

Updated: Jul. 8, 2020 at 11:18 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A subcommittee of the South Carolina Senate met on Wednesday to discuss how to safely reopen schools in the fall.

The Children’s Services/PPE Subcommittee meeting discussed methods of teaching, including virtual and in-person lessons, and the challenges that come with each one.

SC Senate meeting on schools

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Posted by WIS TV on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

“There is a variety of options -- we have three virtual schools, that are charter schools, that are statewide, that have been operating for a number of years -- that’s an option for home school, public school and private school students,” State Superintendent Molly Spearman said.

Most districts have not yet made a decision about how school will look in the fall.

In the meeting, officials discussed how to reach children who have not been accounted for by educators since school went virtual in the spring.

Dr. Debbie Greenhouse brought up that the American Academy of Pediatrics urges schools to bring children back into classrooms. They are taking into consideration the negative effects of students not being in the classroom, such as mental health, isolation, abuse, neglect, and hunger.

AAP also cites research about how the virus seems to not affect children as badly or as often as adults.

“Children and adolescents are much less likely to have significant symptoms or severe disease resulting from COVID infection,” Greenhouse explained. “Studies have also shown that children are much less likely to become infected and also much less likely to spread the infection -- an important factor when considering the safety of our teachers and our staff.”

Greenhouse also said her top three recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state are to close bars, issue a statewide mask mandate and close indoor dining again for a time.

The doctor believes schools could reopen safely with guidelines in place, and that the risk of keeping schools closed outweighs the risk of reopening them.

Despite Greenhouse’s opinions, some lawmakers remained apprehensive about the possibility of a full return in the fall.

“I think unless we see some type of a change in statistics or data or these numbers, I just have a feeling it’s gonna be a recipe for disaster,” State Sen. Kevin Johnson, D-District 36, said.

No matter what lawmakers decide when it comes to school in the fall, it seems the decision will ultimately be up to parents to choose to either have their student return for in-person classes, or learn virtually next school year.

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