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S.C. superintendent doubts COVID-19 vaccine will ever be required for students

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 9:48 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said she doesn’t think a COVID-19 vaccine will ever be required for South Carolina students.

Spearman is the state’s top education leader, and her statement comes as some public health officials estimate that older kids may be able to get the vaccine by this fall, while elementary-aged children may not be able to get it until early 2022.

“We would certainly strongly encourage, just as we do with any vaccine, that families take that precaution for the children into school. But, I don’t see it being required,” Spearman said. “I do hope it’ll happen quickly, because that will be the final piece of this puzzle that would really help us to be able to operate with full confidence.”

Spearman has been pushing every school district in the state to offer in-person classes, five days a week, and she said she expects every district to offer the same next school year.

As for virtual options, the state’s Department of Education will not be requiring school districts to offer their own programs for families who may not feel comfortable sending their kids back in person in August.

“It will not be a requirement of school districts,” Spearman said. “Many of them have seen a very successful program, and many families are asking for that in some areas. So, some districts are planning on offering their own virtual program.”

She added the state’s virtual charter schools are free to any family in South Carolina, and students can take some classes through the department’s VirtualSC program.

As for students who plan to return in person in the fall, Spearman said masks and social distancing requirements will be looked as the start of the school year gets closer.

“We certainly will if it’s needed,” she said. “I think it’s going to take us looking and seeing how things are going at that point, learning more as we have. How long does the vaccine work? We will ask for that if it’s need, but if it’s not, we won’t.”

Spearman also added that most teachers who’ve wanted the shot have been able to get one.

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