COVID Protocol August 30

Last week, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) notified all of the state’s school districts of two major new guidelines. Both of these changes go into effect beginning Monday, August 30, 2021. 

First, DHEC is expanding the amount of social distance that students must maintain to avoid being labeled as a “close contact” to a COVID positive individual. Close contacts are required to quarantine unless they are vaccinated or have documentation of a positive COVID diagnosis within the last 90 days. At the start of the school year, students were only required to maintain three feet of distance from an infectious individual. Effective Monday, the DHEC rules become more complicated. Students who are within three to six feet of an infectious student for 15 minutes or more will be identified as a “close contact” unless a school administrator can confirm that both were wearing a mask. However, if the infectious person is an adult, everyone within six feet is a close contact regardless of masking. In addition, if the distance is less than three feet, close contact exists with or without masks. You can access the new DHEC guidelines here. 
Secondly, SCDE is now requiring South Carolina students to wear masks while on school buses. If a bus rider does not have a mask, one will be provided. You can view the SCDE memorandum here. Additionally, DHEC shared this week that, “Masks are required by Federal Order on school buses and other forms of public transportation in the United States.” Their guidance states that the Federal Order supersedes the Executive Order.  

As a reminder, school buses are actually owned by the SCDE and we, as a district, are required to comply with their guidelines. Wearing masks on buses is a federal requirement, enforced by the state, and we do not have local decision-making authority in this matter. 

The district is continuing to use our own data to carefully monitor COVID-19 cases and exclusions daily. We share these numbers
each afternoon on our
website and consider the information provided to us by public health officials and medical experts when making decisions around instructional model shifts. If you have any immediate questions or concerns regarding the new guidelines, please contact your child’s home school.
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