Greenville County Schools will not be requiring students or employees to wear masks while on district property, the district announced Oct. 1.
The announcement comes a few days after a federal judge blocked a state mandate prohibiting public schools in South Carolina from requiring masks, thus putting the power to require masks back into school officials’ hands.
District officials said COVID-19 spread has dropped by 40% in the past four weeks and that state data suggests that, while GCS students represent about 10% of South Carolina’s total K-12 population, they’re only accounting for about 5% of all COVID-positive school cases, statewide.
“Given the dramatic downward trend in GCS, our statistics compared to the state, the recognition that mask mandates are enormously burdensome on principals, teachers, and staff, and the knowledge that monitoring such a mandate takes our employees away from their primary instructional and support duties, the Greenville County Schools’ administration does not intend to implement a district-wide mask mandate at this time,” said GCS superintendent Burke Royster. “Instead, we will utilize mandatory masking only in extreme circumstances and on a school-by-school basis.”
COVID-19 mitigation strategies in the district include:
- maintain three feet of distance whenever possible
- exclusion from school of students and staff who are COVID-positive
- exclusion from school of unvaccinated students and staff determined to be “close contacts” of a COVID-positive individual
- rigorous contact tracing to minimize the number of students determined to be “close contacts” and therefore required under DHEC exclusion rules to quarantine
- visual cues to remind students about washing their hands
- hand sanitizer stations
- enhanced air exchange protocols
- options for outdoor lunch
- limited group gatherings
- visual reminders to cover coughs and sneezes
*DHEC does not require vaccinated individuals to quarantine. The district asks that parents, in consultation with their child’s primary care physician, consider vaccination for eligible students.