Survey: About two thirds of teachers concerned about reopening schools

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- A new report details the challenges South Carolina teachers faced during online learning this past spring and their concerns for this school year.

The report, compiled by researchers from the University of South Carolina, looks at the struggles teachers went through and how to improve techniques for teaching in a pandemic.

More than 12,000 teachers, which is about a quarter of the South Carolina teaching population, responded to a survey in late May and early June. According to researcher Barnett Berry, the respondents reflected the diversity of South Carolina’s teachers. 94 percent of respondents said they wanted to return to teaching in the fall, but the data shows many still had concerns.

“About two thirds of the teachers said they were concerned about the reopening of schools,” said Tammiee Dickenson, a professor at the USC College of Education who worked on the project.

The report, released Wednesday, also found that teachers faced significant barriers to reaching and teaching students. More than 40 percent said their students did not have access to internet or weren’t comfortable using digital tools at home.

“I had several students that I struggled to reach, although I emailed their parents, their teachers,” said Upstate teacher Jennifer Baughman. “I contacted guidance, principals, social workers.”

The State Department of Education is working to expand internet access to students.

“We know quite well how many households in this state of ours…I think about 600,000 households have not had internet access,” said Barnett Berry, who is a professor at the USC College of Education.

The report also found teachers were under extraordinary stress this spring, especially those who had their own children.

“I struggled to keep my son on task while also teaching online,” Baughman.

One major takeaway was that teachers who taught in high poverty and rural schools, as well as those who worked with elementary schoolers, students with disabilities, and those still learning English faced many more challenges than their counterparts.

One teacher said, “Teaching this spring really showed the inequity in the education in both our schools and our districts,” and “The teachers need to be at the decision-making table as we transform our way of teaching and learning.”

Another thing the study found was that teachers relied on each other to get the job done teaching this spring. Berry said the State Department of Education is creating professional learning networks of teachers so they can more easily share information about what works.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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