COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — As of Aug. 6, 71% of Marlboro County Schools’ employees were vaccinated, according to district. 

District Superintendent Gregory McCord believes that number has climbed since the beginning of the week when teachers returned to campus.

The district also offers teachers a $500 bonus for proof of full vaccination.

“It’s a way for us to reward them in two ways; one, for coming back to us during a pandemic and two, for being socially responsible so-to-speak and getting the vaccination,” McCord said. “Not to infer that those who aren’t vaccinated are not being socially responsible, but this does help us all.”

Steve Nuzum is an English teacher in Richland County and is an advocate through SC for Ed.

He said that all the teachers he knows are vaccinated, but he and many of his colleagues are still worried about disease spread because no mask requirement is in place.

“At this point, I just think there are going to be a lot of COVID cases,” Nuzum said. “Just like in Kershaw and Florence and other places we are going to see school closures that were totally avoidable, probably a lot of them. I mean, it’s a pandemic so we were going to have quarantines inevitably, probably a little bit, but we probably could have avoided a lot of the ones we’re going to have.”

State Epidemiologist Linda Bell agrees that schools could be the “perfect storm” for case surges. Bell said that a week ago there were 68 student and 17 employee cases — and that’s with only a handful of districts that have already started the academic year.

DHEC will update its school COVID-19 dashboard on Tuesdays and Fridays. You can find it by clicking here.