Concerned teachers and parents hold vigil for students and staff lost to COVID-19

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– COVID-19 has changed the way many students have learned in the past year and a half. With the rise of the delta variant, it has even become more deadly for children.

According to the group SC for Ed, 61 students and staff have died since the start of the pandemic.

Even so, many school districts in the state do not have a mask mandate.

“I don’t think a mask mandate is necessary,” reiterated Gov. Henry McMaster on Tuesday.

Many parents at Tuesday night’s vigil outside the South Carolina statehouse hosted by SC For Ed disagree.

“Common sense mitigation strategies are easy. Science is real and evolving. Our children care about each other,” said parent and former teacher Kristi Schrader. “Why is it so hard for some to respect each other’s health? Why have children because pawns in a political game that has no winners?”

It is why many concerned parents and teachers wanted state lawmakers to repeal provisos banning mask mandates and setting limits on how many students and learn virtually.

“We asked our community to ask the Senate to take up these two provisos. Instead, they cancelled,” said Lisa Ellis, founder of SC For Ed.

Even a high school student spoke at the event.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that a 16 year old has to address and unfortunately defend my stance on the protection of my life,” said Ridge View High School junior Nacala McDaniels.

She spoke for allowing more students to learn virtually.

“Let us choose what education works best for us,” McDaniels said. “Let families choose to keep their children safe.”

To keep everyone safe, health professionals recommend getting the vaccine. 

“I think we’re definitely seeing an increase because the virus is learning to manipulate itself so it can continue to infect everyone around us,” said registered nurse Megan Allison. “I think getting vaccinated is the way to keep it from spreading further.”

The vaccine is currently only available to those 12 years and older but is expected to be approved for everyone 5 and older in the next month.

“Go get your child vaccinated. If you have any questions or concerns about the vaccine, please talk to your pediatrician. We do the research for you,” said pediatrician Ramkumar Jayagopalan.

Federal courts have allowed some schools to go against the state proviso and enact mask mandates of their own.

Categories: Local News, Richland