Pee Dee educators protest virtually after demonstrations cancelled due to threats

Pee Dee

FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW)– Educators across the state planned to gather in Columbia to voice their concerns about COVID-19 protocols in schools, but the demonstration was cancelled due to threats.

Another protest was scheduled at the Poynor Adult Education School in Florence, but SC for Ed advised it be cancelled as well. Instead, some teachers took to social media to express their frustration.

“You’ll find that a lot of educators don’t advocate for younger people coming into our field anymore and that’s one of the reasons why today is happening across our state,” said Robin Bowman, a teacher at Lester Elementary School. “Hard doesn’t even describe how this last year was on educators.”

She said the education system has always had problems, but the pandemic made them even worse.

Instead of a public protest, SC for Ed distributed bingo cards with different assignments on them. The assignments included things like bringing up education issues to friends or posting about them on social media.

“One of the things that we were to post about were teachers or friends that had resigned that we knew of personally from school staff,” Bowman said, “Wonderful people that I’m heartbroken to see leave.”

She said she knew of many fellow educators who had resigned due in part to conflicting directives from the state.

“There was this mandate, there was that mandate. You’re going to be six feet apart, you’re not going to be six feet apart,” Bowman said. “You’re going to use plexiglass, you’re not going to use plexiglass.”

She believes teachers need to have a seat at the table when such decisions are made and that parents and teachers should work together to find out what’s best for everyone.

“We love our students, we love our children, and we love their parents,” Bowman said. “We want to work with our parents, always.”

She said people should pay close attention to decisions legislators make and consider how those decisions could affect students.

News13 reached out to Florence 1 Schools administrators about how they plan to address teachers’ concerns. The district has not responded.

The protests were planned after Gov. McMaster issued an order allowing parents to decide whether their child wears a mask at school.

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