Latest SC for Ed survey shines light on ventilation, staffing concerns

State - Regional

Editor’s Note: News13 originally reported that 51% of survey respondents said they had windows they could open, based on the results provided to us. SC for Ed notified us that the results the group initially provided had typos in it. The group provided News13 with an updated version, which says 46% of respondents had windows that could be opened. The updated results also say 27% had access to a thermostat to control classroom temps, different from the 29% initially reported to News13.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) — South Carolina education group SC for Ed has released the results of its latest survey to Palmetto State educators.

‘Temperature Check #4’ surveyed nearly 2,000 teachers and school staff members from March 1 through noon Friday. It focuses on concerns with facilities and staffing.

The survey followed guidelines from the CDC, saying good ventilation can help reduce the number of virus particles in the air in schools.

“That sounded like a great idea, but the immediate response of a lot of teachers was just to kind of laugh,” SC for Ed research director Steve Nuzum said.

Of the educators who responded to the survey, 46% said they had windows that could be opened. Meanwhile 27% reported having access to a thermostat to control classroom temperatures.

Just 11% of respondents said that school HVAC systems met the latest guidance.

“It is troubling, but it’s not really surprising,” Nuzum said. “We wanted to know how feasible that CDC guidance really was. And the answer was, it’s not very feasible, at least not in South Carolina.”

The survey also looks at staffing concerns. More than half of the educators who where surveyed felt there were not enough staff and subs on an average day to remain open safely.

“If you have to combine classes, throw all the kids in the gym, or throw all the kids in the cafeteria or the auditorium or wherever space you have, then you really can’t keep that social distancing,” Nuzum said. “And that’s a staffing problem. You might have a lot of empty rooms in your building that you just can’t kids in because there’s nobody to supervise them.”

SC for Ed wants the data will highlight the need for facility improvements.

“Our hope is in collecting this data we can provide it to the state and just point out some areas infrastructure needs to be reinforced,” board member Nicole Walker said. “Particularly because we have this new round of COVID funding coming.”

Walker added it’s important to track COVID-19 mitigation techniques, even as more educators get vaccinated against the virus. Despite recent breakthroughs with vaccines and step increases, SC for Ed says there is still more that needs to be done.

“I honestly would say there’s a lot of healing left to do in the education community,” Walker said. “But I think educators are still waiting to see that they’re respected as a profession.”

Read the full survey results below.

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