Schools get the brunt of latest COVID wave in South Carolina

Cumbia, Sept 20 (BUS): In the past few weeks, South Carolina has had record numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and new cases approached peak levels last winter. Classes, schools, and entire districts have become virtual, leaving frustrated parents and teachers leaving weeks into the school year.

Since ending the state of emergency in South Carolina on June 7, Republican Governor Henry McMaster has emphasized that only parents should decide whether children wear masks in schools, even as new cases in the state rise from an average of 150 per day to more than 5,000.

“We picked up football very early on. Instead of continuing to listen to medical professionals and interpret data, instead of continuing to listen to medical professionals and interpret data, he was channeled through GRA talking points,” Charleston Democratic Senator Marlon Kempson of Charleston said of McMaster.

The Republican-controlled legislature added the provision that effectively halted most school mask mandates despite guidance from state health and education officials, who said the statewide ban on masks in schools removed one of their best tools for stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Now teachers, students, and parents are grappling with the fallout as more young people contract the delta variant, forcing nearly two dozen schools and two full districts—a number that shifts daily, usually upwards—to return to online learning within a month of returning in person.

Teacher Nicole Walker said a ripple runs through her high school classrooms every time the phone rings and a student is sent to the nurse: Does their friend have COVID-19? Will they have to quarantine? She said the turmoil breeds fear and uncertainty in the classroom.

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“This is one of those times when adults are supposed to rise to the occasion and be able to do the right thing and really be able to create an environment where children feel more secure,” Walker said. “We let them down miserably, in my opinion.”

Walker helped build the grassroots teachers organization SC for Ed, which advocates for better wages and working conditions. Teachers are now talking about school districts not providing protective gear in classrooms and how more teachers are giving up work just weeks into the school year, leaving more students crowded in classrooms.

Allison Harding noticed those full classrooms and a few second graders wearing masks when she dropped off her son on his first day at Daniel Island School in Charleston last month. The 7-year-old has a neuromuscular disease, uses a wheelchair and needs devices to help him breathe.

I pulled him out of school the next day.

He is now waiting at home for the district to provide educational services because she cannot risk contracting the virus, especially since the state reached nearly 2,600 COVID-19 patients in hospital in early September, a record number.

“If hospitals are full, it’s not the time for him. He shouldn’t go,” Harding said.

Much of the conflict surrounds the base of the mask. Although not a total ban, the requirement prevents school districts from using state funds to enforce a rule requiring masks. Almost everyone in the school gets stipends from some state money.

Lawmakers suspended the proposal in the state budget two days after McMaster ended the state of emergency. The governor has sometimes suggested that masks do little to protect against the virus or cause developmental delays in younger children.

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Although the state’s top health officials have given presentations in the past few weeks to show that this is a mistake, the situation continues with McMaster and a number of Republican lawmakers.

“I simply refuse to aid and abet government takeovers of personal health decisions by politicians and bureaucrats who clearly cannot manage this as it is — and some of them make it worse by lying to us along the way,” Senator Shen said. Martin, a Republican from the county of Spartanburg.

As conditions deteriorate, some lawmakers from both parties are pushing for a special session to repeal the rule and allow local governments to make decisions based on their situations. The state Supreme Court is also considering a lawsuit over whether the provision of the mask is legal.

“I am frustrated with the governor, because of the stupid condition, I am frustrated that the school board will not stand up and do the right thing,” said Brandi Sutherland of Summerville, whose first and seventh graders had to go back to the virtual school for at least a week after that, I hope we get out of politics From that year of wrestling with online lessons.

A few, mostly smaller counties, have passed their mask requirements.

“I don’t know how it turned into a debate. I don’t care if it offers 1% protection. That’s 1% more than I don’t have today,” Richard O’Malley, director of Florence 1 School District, told his board in August before they agreed to the mask rule for two months.

The Florence area has less than a third of reported COVID-19 cases in Lancaster County, which has a similar number of students and more than 800 cases since the school year began less than a month ago.

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In meetings across the state, most counties don’t feel comfortable violating state rule, even if it’s not clear what penalty areas they might face.

Harding went to a Berkeley School District meeting in late August to tell them about her son in a failed attempt to obtain a makeshift mask.

“Last week one of the mask opponents told me, ‘It’s sad that my children are being asked to protect your children. It is not their job. She told the board members. “Since when is it sad to teach our children compassion, compassion and selflessness by protecting the vulnerable?”

RAE

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