SC teachers want virtual school again after COVID-19 peak | South Carolina News

By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – With new cases of COVID-19 reaching record highs in South Carolina, a group of teachers are calling on districts to return to fully virtual education until this second peak of the virus can be flattened.

The advocacy took on more emotional weight over the weekend after the death of Staci Blakely, a 50-year-old third-grade teacher. His family has asked Lexington School District 1 to publicly announce his death from COVID-19 to remind people how serious the disease can be, District Superintendent Greg Little said in a statement.

Blakely was a 28-year-old former teacher who was diagnosed with coronavirus on November 11. No one else in his class at Carolina Springs Elementary School in Lexington has been infected, the district said.

“Mrs. Blakely’s death is a tragedy. She was a wonderful and warm teacher who will be missed. One of the ways we can celebrate her life is to be sure to continue to care for each other,” Little said.

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At least four school districts in South Carolina have returned to fully virtual learning. The largest to date – the Orangeburg County School District – has sent its 12,000 students home to learn at least until the end of Christmas vacation, starting Monday. Almost a quarter of the state’s districts teach in person every day. The rest is a hybrid mix of online and in-person learning to make sure the number of people inside school buildings stays at a safe level.

The core group of teachers SC for Ed is calling for schools to all go virtual until the pandemic can be brought under control in part because of health concerns, but also because a growing number of teachers and Sick or isolated school workers mean there aren’t enough adults in schools to keep children safe, organization founder Lisa Ellis said.

Even with the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine possibly arriving in South Carolina next week, it could be long. The first shots in the state will go to nursing home patients and healthcare workers who deal directly with infected patients, state health officials said.

It may be well into the spring or summer before enough doses are available to the general public. Health experts have pointed out that the best ways right now to stop the dangerous trend of coronavirus cases are to practice social distancing, use masks, wash your hands and get tested regularly if you interact with members of the public.

On a seven-day average, South Carolina sees about 2,300 new cases of COVID-19 per day. That’s more than during the July peak that saw the state among the national coronavirus leaders spread.

Deaths are also increasing, with the state seeing an average of 30 per day. Hospitals are reporting more cases of COVID-19, but at the moment they still have beds available.

The percentage of tests that come back positive has been over 20% for much of the past week. Health experts have said anything over 10% can indicate an uncontrolled spread of the disease.

Chief Justice Don Beatty has suspended all jury trials in South Carolina due to the rapid spread of COVID-19. A number of lawmakers and staff have been urged to get tested and self-isolate after at least one state official tested positive after attending South Carolina’s organizational session House last week.

State health officials feared this second wave of cases and predicted it would only get worse over the Thanksgiving holiday as people gathered with others outside their homes, often at home. inside, and shared meals.

Governor Henry McMaster has joined the pre-vacation appeals to be on the safe side and get tested. But he has repeatedly said he has no plans to place a statewide order for masks or shut down businesses.

For the third time since the start of the pandemic, United States Democratic Representative Joe Cunningham on Monday asked McMaster to reconsider the state’s mask rules.

“It seems our governor has simply given up on fighting the spread of this deadly virus. This lack of political courage on the part of the governor has indirectly encouraged apathy towards the virus and has undoubtedly led to an increase in cases and deaths in our state, ”Cunningham said in a statement.

Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Perry A. Thomasson