S.C. representative says resuming face-to-face learning during high COVID-19 spread is ‘irresponsible'

Updated: Aug. 6, 2020 at 10:54 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Wendy Brawley has her concerns about students heading back to the classroom this fall.

Brawley, who represents Richland and Sumter counties in the South Carolina State House, believes it’s too early to resume face-to-face learning as the state continues to see a high spread of COVID-19.

”From the bus driver who picks up the children to the time they are delivered back home, the high risk that we are posing by gathering our students for face-to-face while we are in a high-risk spread, I think is irresponsible,” she said.

Rep. Brawley is part of the South Carolina House Education COVID-19 Committee. This group is made up of six members who provide recommendations on what needs to be changed in state laws and regulations for education to get through COVID-19.

Just days ago, S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman presented to this group. Brawley asked questions and shared her concerns, even calling the face-to-face learning option during a high-spread “irresponsible.”

“I asked several questions, as did my colleagues. One of the concerns I have is that if we are going to see this pressure on districts to reopen what are we doing to make certain we have the protocols in place should there be a person testing positive for COVID? Are there nurses in every school? The answer to that question is no, there’s not a full-time nurse in every school in South Carolina,” she said.

Brawley said her concerns for safety are felt among teachers, school staff, and school administrators.

“Many of these classrooms are quite small with 25, 30 students trying to social distance, trying to exercise those things that DHEC has recommended. For me, it seems a bit impossible for that to happen without spreading even further the virus,” she said.

Horry County Schools finalized its reopening plans Tuesday. District officials are now waiting to hear if Spearman approves.

The plan includes a traditional option depending on the rate of new cases as well as a virtual option.

Brawley also hears from teachers all the time. Many have safety concerns with traditional learning, not just about their own safety but the safety of their students.

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