CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Some confusion surrounding the Charleston County School District’s (CCSD) mask mandate is being cleared up by a CCSD board member.
We reached out to Courtney Waters for clarification on several points.
Q: Can you break down what the mask requirements and expectations are as far as where and when students and teachers have to have their masks on in schools?
A: “We expect that students and teachers have their masks on any time they are indoors at a facility, on the bus. And I think one of the confusing pieces of the messaging was that we wanted to stress that specifically in areas with high traffic and crowding like hallways. But the expectation is that students have their masks on in class. The MUSC advice that we were given, the guidance that we were given that we’ve all been hearing for a year and a half or so now, is that we have a higher chance of transmitting the virus when we’re sitting for long periods of time next to someone who has the virus. So, certainly in classrooms, students are encouraged to keep their masks on even though they’re separated by those three feet.”
Q: Just for clarification, you said ‘encouraged.’ Are they encouraged or required to keep their masks on?
A: “They’re required to keep their masks on.”
Q: How is this going to be enforced? What if a parent decides to send their child to school without a mask?
A: “I would hope and it is my belief that the masses of folks will do this. That people would believe and understand that this is the safest thing for children. and so we don’t plan to send students home for not wearing a mask, We do hope that the general culture and understanding of our school district is that the mask is essential to protecting everyone and that we all start to adopt that as our mantra.”
Q: Last year there was a possibility for waivers. Families could sign a waiver for their child to be an exception to the mask mandate. Is that going to be available during this 60 day period?
A: “I think that’s yet to be seen. We made this decision on Monday and the district had less than 48 hours to put a plan into place. I cannot speak for every detail. I wouldn’t necessarily be okay with that. I think the students need to wear the masks. We don’t know what is going to happen with this delta variant if we don’t get over this peak season for this variant and until we get there, I think that everyone should have a mask on.”
Q: Do you have any words for parents and teachers who are also trying to juggle this?
A: “I just appreciate you all extending grace to us as we try in this short about of time to go the direction that we need it to. Also, I would encourage you…you’re going to see some people deciding to do something in a different direction than what we’ve asked, but I encourage you if you believe that masking keeps people safe, then you send your kids to school with a mask on and allow the culture to shift to thinking of others.”