YORK COUNTY, S.C. (CN2 NEWS) – Just a few weeks into the start of the new school year COVID conversations are the top topic once again. Many school districts across the Tri-County discussing safety protocols as the number of cases rise among students and staff.
Most Tri-County school districts just 2 to 3 weeks into the year, are seeing COVID-19 cases on the rise. Fort Mill Schools seeing 288 positive cases among students and staff, Rock Hill 249, Clover Schools seeing a cumulative of 287 positives, and York seeing a cumulative 278 .
York School District’s, Tim Copper says, “Everyone is facing challenges you know students are facing challenges at home, just simply getting by day to day. We are encouraging them to make sure that we are aware of some of those challenges to see how we can help.”
Governor Henry McMaster’s proviso making the mandate unlawful for school districts, saying state funds may not be used to enforce mask wearing. The South Carolina Supreme Court also hearing cases on masks enforcement this week. Rejecting mandates in the City of Columbia. For now, many school leaders say they’re continuing to encourage masking and tightening other restrictions.
Clover School District’s Bryan Dillon says, “We’re beginning to have conversations about any sorts of necessary changes that we can make to our level two, based on our plan and anything that we need to maybe add to level two.”
Joe Burke with Fort Mill Schools saying, “We are still doing our social distancing, we’re still contact tracing as I mentioned before we shifted back to keeping classes as separate from each other as possible.”
Closing two schools so far this year, Fort Mill is working to install air guardian systems into each elementary and middle school by the end of the year.
“We are installing them in the ceiling right above the classroom itself, they’ll actively clean the air in that area — and then it recycles it back out into the classroom,” says Burke.
Some leaders saying they continue to follow safety practices, set in place last school year. Many are continuing to look into hiring more substitutes, transportation, and nutrition staff. Each school district saying there are many lessons learned, good and bad, from this pandemic.
“Our goal continues to be to keep students in school — we know that face-to-face instruction for students is really what serves them best and what our community needs. And so that is our goal with all of the steps and all of the processes in place is to keep our students in school as much as possible,” says Cooper.
York and Fort Mill district leaders saying they will also be hosting more vaccine sites for students and staff in the months ahead.
In the video above, CN2’s Rachel Richardson is speaking with leaders about the numbers.