GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina)- The Greenville County School District announced its upcoming protocols for the 2021-2022 school year on Tuesday, including policies related to COVID-19.
The district will not require masks in schools for students or staff, but masks still may be worn by choice, according to GCS. Masks will be required to be worn by individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 in the health room and for nurses caring for symptomatic individuals.
GCS says that mask opt out forms are no longer required.
E-learning days will also be capped for schools in the district, which restricts their use to inclement weather or "other short term conditions", according to the district.
The district also confirmed that COVID-19 vaccines will not be required for students or staff and schools will not group students based on vaccination or mask wearing status.
According to Greenville County Schools, DHEC is still requiring schools to quarantine, isolate to protect against COVID-19.
If someone tests positive for the virus, the district says that students or staff who have been in contact with the person who tested positive should quarantine and must be excluded from school until quarantine is complete.
GCS confirmed that schools must be able to contact trace students at all times when inside the building, including during arrival, dismissal, lunch and in classrooms.
Schools are not required to contact trace for outdoor activities or for spectators at after-school events or activities.
For contact tracing, the district says that a close contact is defined as a student within three feet of COVID-19 positive person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period.
For adults, a close contact is defined those within six feet of a COVID-19 positive person for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period.
If someone tests positive, the district says they must follow isolation guidance, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated. Schools will have isolation rooms for symptomatic students, according to GCS. The district says that masks will be required while that student awaits pick-up.
GCS clarified that individuals will not be required to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated and are asymptomatic.
Close contacts to the COVID-19 positive test will be required to quarantine for ten days, and will have to wear a mask for three days after returning to school. Students that choose not to wear a mask will have to quarantine for 14 days.
GCS says that it is requiring a 7 day quarantine for employees that come in close contact with a positive COVID-19 test. Employees will have to test negative between days 5 through 7 of their quarantine in order to return.
The district also clarified its policy on social distancing. In a release, GCS says that three feet of distance will be maintained between students where possible.
According to the release, students will be seated facing the same direction.
In regards to food and water fountains, the district says that outside food must be "commercially prepared." Water fountains will be turned back on, according to GCS.
Meals will be served in the cafeteria but can be consumed in other locations like a classroom or outside, the district says.
Visitors, mentors and volunteers will be allowed in t school buildings, the district confirmed.
GCS says that parents will be allowed to eat with students at the discretion of the principal.
New screening questions will be used for all visitors entering the school, the district says.
According to Greenville County Schools, schools may host events and activities like family fun nights, school dances and school stores.
Indoor assemblies held during the day must be socially distanced with large group assemblies only being held when necessary, GCS clarified.
Staff development events should be socially distanced and should also be offered via Zoom when applicable, according to the new policy.
The district says that it will continue to frequently disinfect high-touch surfaces in common areas. Enhanced air quality practices will also be continued, according to GCS.
Plexiglass will not be used at student seating areas, but GCS says that it will be provided by any employee who requests a barrier at their desk or workspace.
For athletics, the district's policy for contact tracing will remain in effect and social distancing should also be maintained when possible. Coaches are asked to limit the number of athletes in the locker room, according to GCS.
According to district policy, large teams should consider staggering parent meetings or hold them outside or remotely.
The district says that there will be no capacity restrictions on spectator sports or other events.
Greenville County Schools clarified that protocols and plans are subject to change throughout the year.