COLUMBIA, S.C. — State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced the approval of 36 district reopening plans, two residential Governor's Schools, and also instituted a face mask requirement for students and staff in South Carolina's public school facilities.
According to Spearman, that requirement will begin when students and staff return for Learn, Evaluate, Analyze, & Prepare (LEAP) added instructional days.
"As we prepare to welcome students and teachers back to South Carolina classrooms for face to face instruction, it is imperative that we implement measures that are proven to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus," said State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman. "Requiring the use of face masks for everyone in our school buildings in combination with other mitigation tactics will help ensure that we have safe learning environments even when optimal social distancing is not feasible."
The state's face mask requirement while inside public school facilities will follow the guidance set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which states that cloth face coverings should not be placed on:
- Children younger than 2 years old.
- Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious.
- Anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.
The CDC guidance also has considerations for clear face coverings for special populations of students and staff.
According to the release, the SCDE is helping to facilitate this requirement by purchasing and providing five cloth face masks for every teacher, bus driver, custodian, and food service worker.
The department has already purchased masks for students and staff taking part in the Academic Recovery Camps and will make masks available on buses where Superintendent Spearman previously implemented a requirement that they be worn.
The SCDE has also worked with the S.C. Department of Administration and S.C. Emergency Management Division to place large statewide orders for masks, face shields, gowns, gloves, flexiglass, hand sanitizer, and other protective equipment on behalf of school districts.
The thirty six school districts whose reopening plans were approved Friday are:
- Anderson School District One
- Anderson School District Two
- Anderson School District Three
- Anderson School District 4
- Bamberg School District One
- Bamberg School District 2
- Williston School District 29 (Barnwell 29)
- Barnwell School District 45
- Charleston County School District
- Cherokee County School District
- Chesterfield County School District
- Clarendon School District One
- Clarendon County School District Three
- Dillon School District Three
- Dillon School District Four
- Dorchester School District Two
- Dorchester School District Four
- Florence Public School District One
- Florence County School District Four
- Florence County School District Five
- Georgetown County School District
- Hampton County School District 2
- Jasper County School District
- Laurens County School District 55
- Lee County School District
- Marion County School District (Marion 10)
- Marlboro County School District
- McCormick County School District
- Richland County School District One
- Spartanburg School District One
- Spartanburg School District Three
- Spartanburg School District Four
- Spartanburg School District Five
- Spartanburg School District Six
- Spartanburg School District 7
- Union County Schools
These districts are in addition to 31 others that were previously approved.
The reopening plans for the S.C. Governor's School for Science and Mathematics and the S.C. Governor's School for Arts and Humanities have also been approved. Both residential schools will offer students the option of returning to campus face to face in small groups or learning 100% virtually during the start of the 2020-21 school year, according to the release.
According to the department, districts must meet criteria set by SCDE. That criteria includes offering both virtual and face-to-face options for learning, a plan and time frame to review plans to move to full time face-to-face instruction, and the establishment of how the instruction will be provided.
Unlike the emergency remote learning during COVID-19 school closures, schools will have daily instructional schedules, feedback from teachers, and high standards for earning passing grades.
Detailed information regarding approved plans can be found here.