HORRY CO, SC (WBTW) – The chairman of the Horry County Board of Education says it is a shame the governor and the state secretary of education “can’t get on the same page.”
Ken Richardson, chairman of the board, said on Monday he must think of safety first when it comes to sending students back to school. “I don’t have a magic bag I can just go pull teachers out of,” Richardson wrote on Facebook. “Many teachers and employees want to get back in school but not at the expense of their health.”
Gov. McMaster last week called on all public school districts to submit plans for students to go back to school in person, five days a week. Molly Spearman, state superintendent of education, wasn’t with the governor during his statement and said the decisions should be made locally, with safety as the top priority.
“The Govenor ‘suggested’ we go back in person five days a week,” Richardson wrote. “No one wants to see that more than I do. However I have to think of safety.”
Richardson said he reached out to the Horry County Coroner on Sunday for advice and truth with COVID-19 deaths. He said he is not “hiding from this problem,” but is looking for solutions. “I have accepted that I will not be popular here or in Columbia,” he wrote.
Last week, Richardson said he wants to follow DHEC’s guidance on a re-opening plan for schools. DHEC data shows most school districts in the area don’t meet the Accelerate ED standards to hold in-person classes.
And the state teacher’s association said it wants to follow the recommendations of the AccelerateED task force. According to that report, schools should operate in a distance learning model as long as the rate of spread of COVID-19, as measured by DHEC, is “high” in a county. Currently, 45 of our 46 counties fall into that category.
The Palmetto State Teachers Association said it opposes McMaster’s push for all districts to operate in-person instruction, five days a week, “without regard for the status of the coronavirus pandemic.”
“If health conditions do not improve, it would be irresponsible and dangerous to require a return to full in-person instruction,” the PSTA added in a statement. “…the continued high rate of spread of the coronavirus poses a significant, and potentially deadly, health risk for students and staff.”
The board plans to meet on August 3rd to vote on the district’s re-opening plan.