‘They’re terrified:’ Survey says thousands of SC educators have underlying health conditions

Education

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) — A recent survey suggests a considerable percentage of South Carolina school staff members have underlying medical conditions that heighten their risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

The survey was put out by advocate group SC for Ed.

It got over 7,000 responses from South Carolinians in education, mainly teachers. Results show that nearly 42 percent of staff members who responded are at a higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

The survey asked respondents if they had underlying conditions the CDC says cause an increased risk of serious illness due to COVID, and ones that the CDC says might cause an increased risk.

Just over 64 percent of respondents reported having a listed condition in either category.

“Sedentary lifestyle is a big problem so we saw a lot of obesity,” SC for Ed board member Nicole Walker said. “And we saw a lot of diabetes in those numbers. And those are two of the health factors that are considered high risk for COVID-19 complications.”

Walker said she’d like to see districts take this information into account when making decisions about the school year. She added that it’s a positive step that some districts have recently pushed back their start dates.

She said many teachers are afraid of what’s to come.

“They’re terrified,” she said. “So many of them are saying, ‘I can’t believe I have to choose between you know risking my own life or not being able to provide for my whole family.'”

SC for Ed urges districts to follow DHEC and CDC guidelines when creating plans.

“When you have an area that is in the hot zone, that you understand that face to face instruction is not good for the health and well being of anyone involved,” Walker said.

Many districts are in the process of developing plans for the upcoming year, which include safety precautions.

DHEC data as of Monday suggests that nearly every school district in the state fails to meet standards for in-person instruction.

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