Nearly two-thirds of South Carolina public educators responding to a teacher activist survey reported having a pre-existing condition, possibly putting them at risk of complications from a coronavirus infection.

SC for Ed reported Friday the results of a survey of 7,731 educators, suggesting that 42.36 percent of respondents are considered “higher risk” due to a pre-existing condition and 64.6 percent of teachers reported a pre-existing condition.

The results come on the heels of a push from White House, the Statehouse, the S.C. Department of Education and pediatricians for schools to reopen in recent weeks. Advocates for school reopening say it will help the ailing economy and help children be healthier, mentally and physically, so long as the virus is brought to heel and social distancing measures are enacted.

“We feel that it’s important to understand the layers of the debate on return to brick-and-mortar schools,” SC for Ed said in an accompanying statement with the results of the survey.

Risks of contracting a deadly or severe form of COVID-19 tend to increase by age bracket, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eight out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the United States have been among adults aged 65 years and older.

According to the CDC, people with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19: Chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, obesity, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease and Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

According to the survey results, 2,829 respondents reported being obese, and 4,604 reported being over the age of 40.

A nationwide study published Friday suggests that as many as one in four teachers are considered at-risk from COVID-19 complications.

“This percentage is the same as the one we found for workers overall,” the Kaiser Family Foundation study said. “The challenge for school systems and for teachers in particular is the sheer volume of traffic and tight quarters in many school environments, which may make social distancing a significant challenge in many settings. For higher-risk teachers, failure to achieve safe working conditions could have very serious results.”

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