COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The decision for many parents about whether to send their kids back to school in the fall for in-person learning is a difficult one.
On Wednesday, Gov. Henry McMaster stressed that parents should have the final say in whether their kids return to in-person learning or opt for another year of virtual learning.
McMaster recommended that State Superintendent Molly Spearman and the Department of Education not accept any proposal of learning plans from a South Carolina public school district unless that plan gives parents the option for virtual learning or in-person instruction for five days a week -- right at the beginning of school.
The governor did suggest school wait to reopen until Sept. 8.
Many parents said they are unsure whether or not to send their kids back, while others said they have made up their mind in one direction or the other.
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Some parents said they feel strongly that their kids need to be back in the classroom next year, while others said it’s not safe, and they are going to opt for another virtual year.
“I’m very nervous about it if he is to go back,” Dave Barbeau, a Logan Elementary School parent, said.
Barbeau said he’s not sure if he’s going to send his son back to Logan Elementary School if the number of cases keep rising.
“I think it puts an enormous burden on the school systems,” he said. “I think that burden is a burden of health safety and a challenge of logistics.”
Barbeau added he is a professor at the University of South Carolina, so his work schedule is flexible and he’s able to teach his son the virtual lessons.
He said, overall, the virtual learning experience was positive for his son and their family, saying he felt like he learned a lot about his son’s learning capabilities during virtual learning.
However, many parents said it’s been a different story for them.
“Working full-time and then coming home and having to basically home-school your child, it was very challenging,” Kristie Childers, a Sandhills Elementary School parent, said.
Childers said she’s still weighing the pros and cons, but she would like to see her kids return to school in the fall.
“We have great teachers in our school district who do a great job and they learn so much more from them because they devote so much time,” Childers said.
She also pointed out another difficulty -- broadband internet access in rural areas. Childers said it was difficult getting enough service at times to learn virtually.
Emily Fowler said all three of her kids will return to in-person learning in the fall.
“Parents who work 8 to 5 that have to rely on kids staying at home by themselves to teach themselves, that’s just not an option for me,” she said.
Fowler said she believes the schools can take safety precautions to keep people safe.
Others worry about the health risk to teachers and administrators, as well as concerns for the students walking through the doors each day.
Some parents who are still on the fence said they might be more comfortable sending their kids back to school with a hybrid schedule of virtual and in-person learning.
However, most parents did agree with McMaster’s recommendation to allow parents to have the final say one way or another on whether their child goes back to school.