SC teachers who didn’t work during pandemic could have license suspended

SOUTH CAROLINA — A lot of teachers decided to sit this year out because of COVID-19. It’s not a free pass though -- South Carolina school districts can punish any teacher who goes that route by asking that their teaching license be suspended for a year.

For some teachers, the risk was too great. They had underlying health conditions that increased the chance of a potentially fatal outcome if they contracted the virus.

Channel 9 learned that school districts in South Carolina can ask that teaching licenses of those who opted out of teaching during the pandemic be suspended for a year.

“It’s already stressful enough that teachers are having to choose between their lives and livelihoods,” said Patrick Kelly with Palmetto Teachers Association.

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Kelly said the association will go before the state board of education on Tuesday to ask the board to protect those teachers who asked for a COVID waiver.

“There is no reason to try and suspend their license in the midst of a teaching shortage crisis, we need them to have an opportunity to return to a classroom as soon as they and their medical professional deem it safe,” Kelly said.

A South Carolina teacher passed away over the weekend from the virus, highlighting the risk.

Much like the rest of the country, things have taken a turn for the worse in the state. Cases are spiking again and the test positivity rate has been hovering at 20%.

“10,000 cases in South Carolina in four days, it’s just ridiculous,” said Dr. Helmut Albrecht with USC Internal Medicine.

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Albrecht is an infectious disease specialist. He said there is a lot of COVID fatigue in the community, but it’s important to maintain safety protocols.

“We can see the finish line. If the vaccines are half as good as what the early results show, they will be a game-changer,” he said.

COVID fatigue is appearing in some schools, according to the Palmetto Teachers Association. They have been getting complaints, especially in the upstate and low country.

“Lax enforcement of face mask regulations, social distancing, not being maintained and those are big concerns,” Kelly said.