Charleston-area teacher and SC for Ed representative Trever Etminan fears many people are already forgetting what they’ve learned during the pandemic as people get vaccinated and a sense of normalcy waits on the horizon.

“It seems like there’s this national rhetoric about getting back to normal, but I want to caution people because this whole pandemic has given us an infinite number of opportunities to change and make things better,” he told the City Paper.

“I think that’s the biggest obstacle,” Etminan continued. “The rhetoric of normal is overshadowing anything good that we have done and that has happened. And, the rhetoric of the vaccine is sort of echoing so loudly that we can’t hear the voices from within the classroom saying maybe we need to reevaluate. “

Education in particular has been an area of much change, but also much scrutiny in the last year. But, Etminan said that even with the pandemic slowly being put behind us, there is still a lot left to do.

“While we are going back to face-to-face instruction, vaccinating teachers is just step one in a long process,” he said. “We are still living in a classroom with plexiglass barriers that fall off of desks and break daily. Kids are still having to wear masks. All of that will continue to be necessary until all people who choose to be vaccinated have that opportunity.”

With the rollout of South Carolina’s vaccine distribution Phase 1B underway, and teachers lining up for their shot in the arm, some districts are doing their part to help. Charleston County School District officials had their school nurses administer the vaccines at up to six different school sites earlier this month.

“It’s nice to see the districts on top of coordinating Phase 1B,” Etminan said. “The rhetoric of opening schools and the degree to which they are coordinating vaccinations in some districts is starting to align more. It’s promising to see that.”

While the state and nation as a whole continue through what Etminan calls an awkward transitional phase, he said it’s important to keep a mindset geared toward making the system more equitable for students and families than it was before.