CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Lowcountry students will soon head back to class for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
Charleston County School District leaders are reviewing and changing protocols for the Safe Return plan based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and medical professionals in the area.
These adaptations and changes come as a surge in COVID-19 cases, believed to be the Delta variant, are making their way into American homes.
A CCSD meeting was held Monday so CCSD leaders could address parent concerns, and detail some COVID-19 precautions and protocols in schools for the school year ahead.
Masks will not be required in schools as per Governor Henry McMaster. A proviso to the state budget, effective on July 1st, says school district’s state funding is at risk if a mask mandate is put in place.
Despite the lack of a mandate in schools, parents voiced their opinions at Monday’s meeting. Several parents spoke out saying they do not approve of mask or vaccine mandates. Another parent, a pediatric doctor, says masks should be required in schools.
CCSD’s Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait describes the situation as a “conundrum.”
“The conundrum is clear. If we follow some of the very, very clear medical advice we’re being given, we’re out of compliance with a couple of provisions of the state law,” said Dr. Postlewait.
Masks will, however, be required on all CCSD school busses, health clinics, and athletic training spaces according to CCSD’s Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Borowy. He says that is based on mandates and guidance from the CDC.
Borowy touched on a few other precautions the district will be taking this year including placing seats a minimum of three feet apart in classrooms, contact tracing all district cases, quarantining close contacts for 14 days, and restarting the COVID-19 dashboard which tracks positive cases by school. Increased cleaning measures will also be practiced.
“From a cleaning perspective, we’re going to maintain the standards we had last year of bathrooms and high touch services twice a day and our fogging of all schools once a week, 20% per weeknight. We’ll continue to emphasize handwashing. We’ll have hand sanitizer distributed to schools like we did last year,” said Borowy.
Based on COVID numbers in the area as the year gets underway, these precautions are subject to change.
Borowy said CCSD leaders and the district’s legal counsel were planning to discuss the prohibition of a mask mandate during the executive session portion of another meeting on Monday.
For more on CCSD’s Safe Return plan, click here.