COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – Republican leaders headed down from Washington, D.C. to South Carolina Tuesday to discuss school reopening and participate in a Lowcountry campaign event.
Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos first stopped at the University of South Carolina for a roundtable discussion with Gov. Henry McMaster, local education leaders and parents.
The second lady, who teaches elementary art part-time, began the discussion saying that kids need to be back in school for their mental health and their academic health.
“It’s our kids who are struggling and they need their friends and they need their teachers,” she said.
“They need their routines — and the routines won’t be exactly the same. I mean I’m an art teacher and I don’t get to teach in my art room this year,” the first lady continued. “I go with a cart from room to room because it’s going to keep the kids safer.”
DeVos agreed that students need to get back to class.
“Every student in South Carolina and across America must continue learning. It’s not a matter if schools should reopen it’s a matter of how to do it safely,” the education secretary said, adding that the decision on how to reopen is best left to local leaders.
“They know their students, their teachers and the health situation in their area better than the folks in Washington do,” DeVos added.
She also applauded McMaster on the creation of the Safe Access to Flexible Education (SAFE) grants, which provide up to $6,500 to help with tuition for eligible students at participating private, parochial or independent schools in South Carolina.
The governor invited Janie Neely, a mother of three, to speak about the impact schools shifting online earlier this year impacted her youngest son with Down syndrome.
“Out of my three children his life has changed most dramatically,” she said.
“My son’s four. For primary age students, school develops skills in regulating behavior, emotions, attention and the structure and routine of a school day that builds these foundational skills just cannot be replicated in a distance learning platform,” Neely continued.
The vice president thanked her for “putting daylight on special needs children and the vital role that schools play in families like yours.”
“We’ll carry this back and we’re going to be with you every step of the way as you put these very sound plans to reopen schools,” Pence continued.
Pence will be heading to the Lowcountry to attend an event for Rep. Nancy Mace as she campaigns for the First Congressional District seat. That event will be held at the Citadel Alumni Center and features Dr. Anthony Kowbeidu, Medal of Honor Recipient General James Livingston, and supporters.
The event is not open to the public and space is limited due to the City of Charleston’s ordinance on public gatherings amid the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the second lady will visit military spouse and veteran-owned Grey Ghost Bakery in Charleston. She plans to tour the bakery and join a discussion with a local Small Business Administration (SBA) Representative about how the bakery started with the help of SBA programming.
Mrs. Pence launched a campaign in September of 2018 to honor and highlight the service of military spouses while also recognizing their unique employment challenges.
Some story info via WCBD