SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (WSPA) – South Carolina’s Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman was in the Upstate on Monday, taking a tour of some Spartanburg County schools and talking COVID challenges with teachers.
Spearman paid a visit to Abner Creek Academy to learn more about the obstacles students and teachers have faced during the pandemic.
“In a school like this, it reminds me that we are in this together. It’s been tough on all of us, together, and we’re making it through. Here we are, just a few more weeks and the school year will be over,” Molly Spearman said.
Several students told Spearman they were happy to be back in the classroom with their friends.
“The children said, when they were virtual, it just did not feel right,” Spearman said. “One little boy said it just didn’t feel right. He said, ‘It feels right to be back at school.” Isn’t that a wonderful thing, that they feel so at home?”
One of the biggest challenges, students told her, was wearing a mask in school, which Governor McMaster recently called “ridiculous.”
“I disagree with my good friend, the governor. I think we are doing just what he asked us to do early on and following the advice of the experts,” Spearman said.
However, while Spearman said the mask mandate will be in place until the end of this school year, she said she’s hopeful next year will be different.
“We only have a few weeks left. It’s worked extremely well,” she said. “I do not foresee a mask mandate next year. We are hoping everything will be back to normal.”
And, even with the challenges that have come along with COVID, Spearman said she’s proud of the way things are being handled in Spartanburg County.
“The thing that has impressed me the most is to see how this school is really focused on, not just the academics, but the leadership and the social-emotional part of what we do in school every day,” she said.
After her tour of the school, Spearman participated in a roundtable discussion with teachers to hear their side of things.
“I’ve never met Molly Spearman before, but just having her come and listen to us, and say that she hears us and that she’s heard us, and just to explain what’s going on throughout our state, it has been really special,” 1st grade teacher Elizabeth Grube said.
“They can look back on this year as a great challenge and they made it through,” Spearman said. “There were things that we didn’t like. There were rules we had to follow that we didn’t like so much; but we did it. We made it through, and we will be stronger people for it.”
After her visit at Abner Creek Academy, Spearman made another stop at Byrnes High School.