By Stacy M. Brown
NAACP in the Palmetto State is the latest organization to express concern over Gov. Henry McMaster’s demand that schools reopen in the fall.
In a statement, the group outlined numerous concerns and criticized McMaster for showing little to no concern for the mental health of students.
The NAACP sharply criticized the governor for making his statements without consulting with, or even inviting, African American legislators and educators to his news conference.
“There is an apparent continuance to ignore the voices of those not only in the trenches but of those who are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” NAACP officials noted.
“These groups have spoken, but their voices apparently do not align with the governor, thus they were ignored. Clearly, the governor and his team are choosing to ignore the voices of teachers and public educators and school districts who have worked for months on their plans to reopen schools safely.”
Separately, NAACP branches in Georgetown and Andrews expressed their concerns about school reopening plans.
They are advocating for virtual learning.
“Once our health fails it doesn’t come back,” Georgetown NAACP Branch President Neal Marvin said during a news conference this week. “The economy will always come back at some time. It will come back. The voice of our parents, healthcare professionals must lead in this decision making. Those who make the decisions, it needs to be the demographic of the school district.”
Currently, local school districts are discussion a variety of options for the fall semester.
Neal and other NAACP officials said in-person learning shouldn’t be on the table at the moment.
“How many more people in the United States, South Carolina, Georgetown are going to die, going to die, because a lack of common sense?” Neal said.
In the Georgetown District, about 44 percent of students are African American and roughly 6 percent is Hispanic.
Neal objected to a survey that noted about 45 percent of parents said they didn’t feel comfortable sending their children back to school.
“Everybody can’t speak for our children,” Neal said.
In a separate statement, the main South Carolina NAACP branch noted that minorities have long been the test subjects to theories and research, “so why are we subjecting our children into an unsafe environment while COVID-19 cases run rapid in South Carolina?”
“The need for education is significant for our young men and women, but what is the best plan to reach children in rural communities who do not have access to tools that will make them academically sound?”
“If we continue down this path of destruction of reactive planning, our children will continue to be lost. Schools do not have a plan set to track the whereabouts of students that have been unaccounted for since March. This is not something legislators are pushing for but we have to make them aware and address this ongoing issue.”
The NAACP has called on McMaster to Respect the health experts’ opinions on the danger of sending students and teachers to school too early, and to respect the state school superintendent’s opinion on school reopening. They have also asked that the necessary infrastructure for all students be provided in every area of South Carolina to be successful in learning at home during this pandemic.