South Carolina teachers’ organization frustrated by lack of mask mandates in schools

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 4:15 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - It’s been one week since Lowcountry districts started the school year, and some schools are already facing challenges from COVID-19.

After the first five days of school, one high school in Jasper County is going virtual. SC for Ed is an organization of teachers from all over the state, including the Lowcountry, and one of their board members told me South Carolina educators have been put in a bad situation.

“I just feel like we were put in a position to fail and now you’re watching that failure happen all over the state,” said Nicole Walker.

Walker teaches a few hours away just outside of Columbia, but there’s a huge difference in how her school’s mask recommendation is going compared to what we’ve seen in the Lowcountry.

“I’m really lucky cause here, I’m at Ridgeville High School in Ridgeville and I’d say 98 percent of our student body is choosing to wear masks,” she said.

One Beaufort County school WTOC spoke to last week reported between a quarter and a third of their students were wearing masks. Walker says no matter the level of masking, SC for Ed members are telling her it’s never been more difficult to be an educator in the state.

“The thing that I’ve heard from so many of my friends and colleagues is that normally summer is a time to recharge and you come back at the beginning of the school year just really ready to go and excited and how many people are saying to me I don’t feel that way at all this year. I’m still exhausted, I’m still stressed, I’m terrified,” Walker said.

For now, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s proviso doesn’t allow any school districts across the state to mandate masks, something SC for Ed opposes.

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