To talk about this we’ve pulled in south carolina’s superintendent of education, molly spearman she’s with us right now live and thank you so much superintendent for joining us. You know cdc came out this week, saying the schools really aren’t in bad shape, that things are actually going. Pretty well with transmission in the schools, but we’ve just checked a couple of reports around the country. New jersey is reporting outbreaks in the schools, michigan reporting outbreaks in the schools, philadelphia, wichita, kansas what’s, the situation here. Are we seeing these kind of clusters popping up? Well? Currently, we have 25 of our school districts of our 79 school districts that are back to school five days a week for everyone, the 42 districts going hybrid, meaning they’re there some face to face, and we have 12 districts that are virtual. It has gone really well inside the school day, but i’m hearing from superintendents who have been back to school five days a week, saying it’s getting harder there’s, not that transmission at the school, but the transmission out in the community is affecting their staff and their their Ability to operate every day – and that brings us to the question you know the governor – enabled the schools to be able to test more right is the fact that uh students are turning positive uh. The fact that we are testing more or is it that there is more more disease out there and being transmitted well, i i think, obviously there’s more virus out there and it is being transmitted i’m, very, very proud of our schools, though we have proved we didn’t Know what was going to happen when we made our plans back in the summer for the reopening of schools, we really weren’t sure, but during the school day, it’s a very safe environment with wearing the mask the social distancing.
All of the things that we’re supposed to do, but the fear and the reality of that transmission outside school is causing many schools to close down, and the fear still is for some schools to reopen so that’s. Why i’ve really pushed the governor and dhec to consider prioritizing school teachers educators in in a higher order so that we can get them vaccinated yeah the dhec board did decided not to prioritize them, as you just mentioned. Do you think that is a big mistake? Well, i was disappointed that 1b is a huge group of people and certainly everybody needs a vaccine, but a school teacher being vaccinated impacts, so many lives every child in their classroom, every child they teach during the day if they get the disease, and that means then That all of those families are quarantined, so i think for the the impact that having schools open, it’s well worth moving all of our teachers, our educators, up into a higher priority, so we’ve heard from teachers as you can imagine, and they want to know sort of The timeline they figure you as the superintendent are talking to the governor’s office talking to d heck. Is there a timeline for when they will start getting the shot? Well, it all depends on whether or not we get the prioritization and also the amount of vaccine rolling into the state. We did a survey, and today collected all of that information. We have surveyed all school districts to find out how many employees they would have that would need to be vaccinated and what is the willingness of those employees to take the vaccine so we’re working with dx, so we’re? Making steps we’re also making sure that every school district has a plan in place with some provider, whether it’s their local hospital, a private provider that they’re ready to go, that we have the model in place as to how we can do this very efficiently and get It done very quickly.
That was one of the number one questions too. Will it be right there on their school campus? Are they going to have to go somewhere a variety of models uh depending you know, depending on the plan i’m, hoping that we can bring the vaccine to the schools? But of course you know, the pfizer vaccine has to be refrigerated, extremely temperatures. So all of those details are being worked out now, but many of our school districts are they’re getting set and they’re ready. All i need now is that prioritization and moving us forward superintendent spearman. Thank you so much for joining us tonight, gordon. You know the tourism industry has taken a brutal hit in the past year, so we wonder how the vaccine will change things there. Megan miller is in myrtle beach with that thanks. So much joining me this evening is karen riordan president and ceo of the myrtle beach area chamber of commerce, karen thanks so much for joining us thanks for having me here today, all right! Well, we haven’t talked, since you know the start of the pandemic, and that was when we were just you know, weeks and months into the pandemic. We saw at the very beginning some states, especially in the north, playing the blame game and pointing fingers at south carolina. Saying people were traveling to the palmetto state and bringing covid clusters back into their community. What kind of effect did that pr have on our state and on tourism because that’s, something that you in a pandemic never want to hear happen? It’S, certainly unfortunate, but honestly we’ll.
Never really know the extent of that damage. We were all affected, there’s, not a state in the united states of america that hasn’t been affected deeply by the pandemic. So overall we’re not terribly concerned about that. I think again, as we all have lived and evolved through this pandemic, we’ve come to realize playing a blame game. Isn’T really helpful uh. We certainly did see groups uh cancel quite a bit. A big bright spot for 2020, however, was sports. We not only did okay with sports and had postponements that moved to the fall. We actually picked up a lot of sporting events um here in the grand strand that were otherwise going to go to north carolina or georgia or other places like that. So that was a bright spot. We are finally starting to see the rollout of this kova 19 vaccine nationwide. What kind of impact do you think it will have on tourism here in south carolina and for our state it’s kind of that bright spot everybody’s been waiting for? It is, i think, the vaccine and the distribution of vaccine is a really really important aspect of how we all get back to semi normal. I really think the key word for us to be thinking about when we think about distribution of vaccine is confidence it’s going to give our local residents confidence as we receive the vaccine, but it’s also going to be giving those travelers in their home states confidence.
And we know there’s a lot of pent up demand to travel, but we also know that quite a few of them are going to wait until they actually have had both of those vaccinations so um. It really is about instilling that confidence working together in the tourism industry, with public health with medicine uh, to make sure that we can restore that confidence moving forward. You know tourism is the big, a big money maker here in south carolina. What kind of marketing strategies could we see here in 2021 and moving forward just to let folks know that it’s, okay, to travel both for leisure and for business, that’s, exactly right and that’s? What we’ll be focused on? We kicked off after a couple of months in the pandemic, realizing this was going to be a long term event. The whole travel responsibly campaign and we’ll continue with that part of our strategy. Was this ready set go and what we really mean by that is that we know there’s pent up demand there’s a lot of people out there looking to travel they’re starting to put myrtle beach on their wish list, but they’re not quite ready to do that. Yet so we want to be able to convey when they are ready. We are here and we’re waiting for them. In fact, this week is plan your vacation week and so we’re excited about that, because that’s a great opportunity to be telling people might not be able to come in the next month or so.
But you can come soon and you can start dreaming and planning now and then we’ll be ready to welcome you. But if we work together as a business community and as a residential community uh, we feel very, very bullish that in 2021 the grand strand is going to start to rebound in a very positive way: comfort, that’s, the key word there, karen reardon president and ceo of The myrtle beach area chamber of commerce thanks so much for joining us tonight, thanks for having me i’m megan miller in myrtle beach, we’ll, send it right back to you, and you heard thanks.