GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) - Greenville County Schools announced its decision to not implement the mask mandate provided by judicial decision.
The district made the announcement Friday, Oct. 1 after a federal court ruling released on Sept. 28 issued a temporary injunction that struck down Proviso 1.108, which prohibited SC schools from mandating masks for students and employees.
The district said they won't implement a mask mandate, however, IEP and 504 teams will continue to consider reasonable accommodations to ensure students with disabilities receive free and appropriate education.
Officials said over the past four weeks, there has been a 40-percent decline in the spread of Covid-19 throughout Greenville County Schools. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control School Dashboard, GCS students are responsible for only 5-percent of COVID-positive school cases in South Carolina so far this year, even though the district represents about 10% of the total student population in the state. The administration believes this means that existing measures, including the exclusion of COVID-positive students, rigorous contact tracing and quarantining of close contacts, enhanced air exchange protocols and other mitigation strategies are positively affecting spread in district schools.
“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 Superintendent Dr. W. Burke Royster in a news release. “Instead, we will utilize mandatory masking only in extreme circumstances and on a school-by-school basis.”
Current COVID-19 mitigation strategies in Greenville County Schools include:
- Maintain 3-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 handwashing
- Hand sanitizer stations
- Enhanced air exchange protocols
- Options for outdoor lunch
- Limited group gatherings
- Visual reminders to cover coughs and sneezes