SC health officials explain new COVID-19 guidance for classrooms

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 1:02 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 2:06 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - While state health officials have shied away from recommending mask mandates, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control released guidelines for classrooms this fall.

The key points included:

  • Schools are strongly encouraged to work with local public health officials and healthcare facilities and professionals to provide factual information and education about COVID-19 vaccination and to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines by coordinating vaccine clinics for staff, students, and families who wish to be vaccinated.
  • DHEC strongly recommends mask use for all people when indoors in school settings, especially when physical distancing is not possible. Children under two years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone unable to remove the face covering without assistance should not wear a mask. DHEC recognizes mask use cannot be mandated per the SC General Assembly but is providing the following guidance for teachers, staff and parents.
  • At least three feet of distance between each student should be maintained to the greatest extent possible.
  • Case investigation and contact tracing are critical strategies to identify and isolate cases and test and quarantine close contacts to reduce transmission.
  • Mask use is required on school buses and other public transportation per federal CDC Order regardless of the mask policy at school or the individual’s vaccination status; school systems should take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with this requirement by students, staff, and others.

South Carolina health officials are urging people to follow new federal guidance on wearing masks indoors as the state battles a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Gov. Henry McMaster says that school officials can’t get around the mask mandate ban. COVID-19 cases are climbing again in South Carolina, with a 92.6% jump in cases over the last week.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.