School starts back for a lot of students this week. Here’s what you need to know to be safe.
RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — Lexington and Richland County schools start back this week for K-12 students.
Here’s a look at what each district’s safety guidelines will look like with COVID19 numbers on the rise again.
Richland One’s COVID-19 Mitigation and Safety Protocols for 2021-2022 list many categories of information including masks, social distancing, visitors and cleaning.
As far as masks go, the district is strongly encouraging staff and students to wear masks to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Students and staff are required to wear masks on school buses and in the health rooms and isolation rooms when students and/or staff have COVID-like respiratory symptoms. And all visitors are required to wear them.
Three feet of social distancing will be maintained and plexiglass shields will be used at desks in classrooms.
Visitors will be allowed inside for urgent or critical situations only and conferences that don’t need to be held in person will be held virtually.
Classrooms will have a number of cleaning products and CDC guidelines will be followed. The HVAC units are being serviced for maximum air quality and nursing stations and isolation rooms have received HEPA-rated air purification units.
The district encourages vaccinations and as far as quarantines, “vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff who are identified as close contacts (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more) of positive COVID-19 cases will be required to quarantine for 14 days.”
Face masks are encouraged and are required in health rooms or when being dismissed due to respiratory symptoms. Visitors will wear face coverings and they will be required on buses.
They plan on physically distancing by 3 ft and will utilize virtual platforms, a hybrid model, or staggered attendance if that is not possible for the following events: staff meetings, parent meetings, school day student assemblies or other student congregate events and activities.
Classrooms will have barriers/dividers for elementary school through 6th grade and 7th- 12th grad will have them as needed or requested. Students will face the same direction, classrooms will be decluttered to maximize space and seating charts will be maintained.
Visitors will wear face coverings inside the building and will be limited to two per classroom at one time. Visitors will not be able to eat breakfast or lunch with students.
Water fountains will be for filling water bottles only. Directional traffic patterns will be managed in the hallways and stairwells and increased cleaning will take place routinely.
Quarantine periods will be 14 days or 7 days with a negative viral test and no symptoms during the – day period. PPE will be provided for nurses and SPED staff who work in close proximity to students.
Lexington One has a ‘safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services plan’ in place.
Their two main goals are to maximize instruction and keep students and staff as safe as possible.
Their strategies in place include maintaining five additional float nurses, maintain an increased number of health room assistants, maintain PPE supply stock and hand-sanitizing stations, additional pay for summer and winter break contact tracing, continued monitoring of the spread of COVID19 and the flu among other strategies.
Masks will be optional for students and staff unless directed by the SC Dept. of Education, the Governor’s office, or other authorized state agencies.
Physical distancing structures will be modified by school level and community transmission. You can see that guide here.
Handwashing and proper respiratory etiquette- described as ‘coughing into your elbow, properly using tissue and throwing them away after use, covering sneezes and coughs, washing hands and using hand sanitizer often, etc.’ will be encouraged.
Regular cleaning will be in place as well as safer ventilation in schools.
DHEC guidelines related to quarantine and isolation will be followed. Contact tracing will be done by maintaining seating charts if they can’t be spaced 3 ft. apart. Fully vaccinated individuals will not need to quarantine due to close contact exposure.
The district will work with employees to seek vaccine opportunities and provide the most current and accurate vaccine information.
The student dress code was modified to allow students to wear a mask if they feel the need to. While they say they cannot mandate masks, students, staff and visitors can wear one without fear of repercussions.
The ‘5%’ rule will be in effect, requiring a school building to move to remote learning if 5% of the student population is positive for COVID19.
School nurses will be able to perform COVID19 testing with permission from a parent or guardian.
Cleaning and sanitation protocols will continue nightly with cleaning and misting with disinfectant to happen throughout the week.
Lexington Three has a ‘safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services plan’ in place for the year.
It includes limits on non-essential visitors and activities, sanitizing stations throughout the building, promoting frequent hand washing, encouraging virtual events when needed, following CDC and SCDHEC guidelines for mask-wearing and social distancing, and monitoring the spread of cases in school.
Masks will be encouraged for non-vaccinated persons with guidance on the correct wearing of a face covering to the students/staff/parents.
Facilities will be modified for physical distancing.
Handwashing and respiratory etiquette will be encouraged.
Cleaning and maintaining facilities ventilation will take place daily.
Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine will be observed. The district will be following SCDHEC’s recommended guidelines.
Vaccination opportunities will be communicated to educators, staff, and students, if eligible.
According to their ‘Mask Update and COVID19 Exclusion Information’, Lexington Four will operate on the following guidance.
Masks will not be required but will be highly recommended especially indoors in school settings and when physical distancing is not possible.
The district is encouraging staff/students to stay home when sick. They will be excluded from school (per DHEC guidance) if: they are in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID19, they receive a positive test, they are experiencing COVID19 related symptoms.
Students will be required to stay home from school for a minimum of 10 days if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID19, regardless of mask use. If they have close contact, they should wear a mask for 14 days after exposure or until they receive a negative test result.
Physical distancing will be used as possible.
Day-time transitions will be structured to limit close contact.
Regular cleaning and sanitizing of classrooms will continue to take place.
Lex-Rich5 has a preliminary 2021-2022 reentry plan in place.
Their plan includes five guiding principles: ‘focusing actions and decisions on the belief that parents should have options for their child’s education, focusing around the safety and social-emotional well-being of students and staff, focusing on current and long-term student achievement, focusing on their Superintendent’s priorities and also focusing on being responsible to stakeholders in actions related to COVID19. ‘
Masks will be encouraged by students and teachers and staff will be strongly encouraged to wear a face-covering while on district property or conducting business for the district.
Students and staff will be asked to do daily self-screenings before going to any campus.
Handwashing and other preventative measures will be in place.
Facilities will be altered to allow for physical distancing when possible.
Strategies for clean and healthy facilities will be implemented including improving ventilation.
Contact tracing will continue and the district will continue to partner with health care providers to educate staff and families about testing and vaccine opportunities.
Each district has been encouraged by SCDHEC to take its recommendations into consideration this school year.
Here are links to COVID19 protocols in other counties in the Midlands: