Clover School District Elects To Remain With Current Mask Policy
Last week a federal court ruling issued a temporary injunction against Proviso 1.108. This proviso prohibited South Carolina schools from mandating masks for students and employees. The Federal District Court found that Proviso 1.108 violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Both the state and local school districts are prohibited from enforcing Proviso 1.108 and school districts maintain the discretionary authority to require face coverings.
After holding discussions with the Board of Trustees, district legal counsel, and district administrators about the scope of the court’s decision, Clover School District will not implement a mask mandate at this time. The district will comply with all IEP and 504 requirements to provide reasonable accommodations and ensure students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education.
The decision not to implement a mask mandate comes as Clover School District continues to see a downward trend in the spread of COVID-19. In the last month, positive cases have declined by 67.7% (from 161 on September 4, 2021, to 52 on October 4, 2021). No school in the district has over nine positive student cases at this time. Currently, there are nine total staff positive cases. Strategies such as isolating positive students, quarantining close contacts, and converting classes to temporary remote learning when needed have helped to control the spread of COVID-19 in school.
If the district were to see a change in the current trend of COVID-19 spread, the federal court ruling allows CSD to add masks as a mitigation tool for a period of time where there is localized spread be that at the classroom, team, school, or district level. Future decisions related to face coverings will be driven by available community and district trend data. Per federal executive order, face coverings are still required on school buses.
As a reminder, DHEC and CDC strongly recommend masks at school to avoid being named a close contact. According to DHEC, any unvaccinated student who spends at least 15 minutes within 3-6 feet of another COVID-positive student is considered a close contact and must be quarantined, unless both individuals were wearing a mask. Consequently, the number of students missing school due to required quarantines could be significantly reduced if students choose to consistently wear masks.
Clover School District will continue to implement the following COVID-19 mitigation strategies:
- 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
- after-hour sanitation and disinfecting spraying
- maximum air exchange protocols with HVAC systems
- options for outdoor and socially-distanced lunch, arrival, and dismissal holding areas
- limited large group gatherings
- visual reminders to cover coughs and sneezes