COLUMBIA, S.C. — Governor Henry McMaster has signed a bill into law that requires schools to offer five days of in-person learning. The law also prohibits teachers from teaching both in-person and virtual classes.
McMaster has been pushing for five days of in-person learning since last summer. While most districts are now offering that, this new law will ensure every family will have the option of full-time face-to-face instruction this school year and next.
"The best place for the children to be is in the classroom," McMaster said before signing the bill. "[This bill] sends a very strong message of what's expected in education in South Carolina"
All but three school districts in the state are already offering five days in person. Those three districts will start Monday. The law doesn’t take away virtual options for this year, it simply ensures families have the option of five days face-to-face.
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman stood by Governor McMaster as he signed the bill Thursday. In her speech, she addressed parents directly, "we can have them in school safely and I strongly encourage you to send your children back to school face-to-face."
The law, authored by Senator Greg Hembree, also says teachers are prohibited from teaching both in-person and virtual classes, except for extreme circumstances.
"Teachers are basically having to teach in two systems and quite frankly it’s killing the teachers," Hembree told News19 in a one-on-one interview.
"If you have to do it, or you choose to do it, you have to compensate teachers fairly for that. So, we’re trying to motivate the districts quite frankly to drop the virtual programs," said Hembree.
This part of the law goes into effect next year and will not affect the current school year.
Lastly, the law raises the income cap for retired teachers from $10,000 to $50,000 for a three-year period. This is to encourage retired teachers to rejoin the workforce and help with the teacher shortage crisis.
"Clearly we’re going to be needing teachers in the workforce, and I would encourage teachers that have retired that have an interest in coming back, we’re going to need teachers to do tutoring, to get kids caught up, after school programs, if you don’t want to be full time teacher that’s okay we’ll take you part time," Hembree said.
The law goes into effect immediately with the governor’s signature.