Mask and Social Distancing Update From SC Department of Education and DHEC

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Due to the rising number of COVID-19 infections, some changes are being made to masking requirements and the determination of close contacts within the schools and buses in South Carolina. The South Carolina Department of Education is again requiring students on school buses to wear a mask. Additionally, DHEC has updated the distance required to close contact a person who tests positive to 6ft.

What does this mean for Upstate, SC school districts? Here’s what we know.

SCDE mask updates and DHEC

Masking on School Buses in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Education is returning to the requirement that all students on buses wear a mask. This is a statewide requirement, enforced by a Federal mandate.

Determination of Close Contact Within South Carolina Schools

Before this update, students who were within 3ft of a person who tests positive for COvid-19 were considered close contact and needed to quarantine if they were not vaccinated or had not previously had Covid-19 within 90 days. With this updated from DHEC, students who are within 6 ft of a person who tests positive for Covid-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24 hour period will have to quarantine if they are not vaccinated or had not previously had Covid-19 within 90 days. Documentation must be submitted to prove vaccination or prior infection.

Greenville County Schools Update

The new masking requirements and social distancing determination of close contact will begin Monday, August 30th, in Greenville County Schools.

Here is what Greenville County Schools announced today, August 26th, 2021.

“Starting Monday, August 30, Greenville County Schools will adhere to the latest DHEC guidelines announced by the SC Department of Education this morning. Because of rising COVID infection rates statewide, SCDE will require students in South Carolina to wear masks while on school buses.  Additionally, DHEC is expanding to 6 feet the amount of social distance students must maintain to avoid being considered a “close contact” to a COVID positive individual. Close contacts are required to quarantine unless they are vaccinated or have documentation of a positive COVID diagnosis within the last 90 days. The new social distancing rules are situational and depend on masking and whether the COVID positive individual was a student or adult.  Greenville County School has developed graphics to help parents understand these changes and post them on the district website.  Again, the mask requirement on school buses and the 6-foot social distancing requirement to avoid becoming a close contact take effect on Monday, Aug. 30.”

This chart shows quarantine and isolation paths in Greenville County Schools.

To stay up to date with the most recent announcements regarding COVID-19, bookmark this article on your browser: Greenville County Schools News and Updates, Greenville, SC

Spartanburg County School Districts Update

We’ll update with statements from other school districts as they become available.
The SC Bus Mask Mandate is a statewide change, adhering to a federal mandate, and will likely affect all South Carolina public schools.

Spartanburg County School District One

“Earlier today the South Carolina State Department of Education announced that it will reinstate the CDC order requiring all students and staff wear face coverings on state and school buses. This order will go into effect on Monday, August 30. Each of our buses will have masks available for any students that may need them. A copy of the state department order that outlines the requirements can be found on our website. Thank you for your cooperation as we adhere to this order, and as we work to provide a safe environment for our students and staff”

Spartanburg County School District Two

Has not issued a public announcement yet – check the D2 Facebook page for updates

Spartanburg County School District Three

Has not issued a public announcement yet – check the D3 Facebook page for updates

Spartanburg County School District Four

Has not issued a public announcement yet – check the D4 Facebook page for updates

Spartanburg County School District Five

“Beginning Monday, August 30, the South Carolina Department of Education is requiring all students and staff to wear masks while on school buses.  This action is in accordance with CDC requirements and applies to all school districts in the state of South Carolina.  If students do not have a mask, one will be provided for them.
Once students arrive at school, in keeping with District Five protocol, masks are strongly encouraged, but not required, once they are off the bus, and on school grounds.

Also, beginning Monday, Spartanburg District Five will be limiting visitors, including parents, families, and any other community members, to just the front office areas of our schools.  No visitors will be allowed in classrooms or other areas of our campuses, beyond the front office for the foreseeable future.  Due to the infection rates of COVID-19 in our community, we feel this is needed to protect our students and staff at this time.”

Spartanburg County School District Six

Has not issued a public statement yet – check the D6 Facebook page for updates

Spartanburg County School District Seven

This week, SCDHEC and the SC Department of Education released updated COVID-19 guidance for schools based on data and relating to the Delta variant and the latest evidence-based science:

  • Masks will be required on all state buses effective Monday.
  • The criteria for identifying student close contacts has been updated. Now, both mask wearing and physical distance are considered when determining whether a student needs to quarantine. This criteria mirrors CDC guidance. Please see below for details.
  • As a result of these changes, wearing masks can now reduce the number of students required to miss school due to quarantine. District 7 urges all students and staff to wear masks in our schools during this time of high COVID activity in our community.

District 7 will host another COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Saturday, September 4 from 9 a.m. – noon at Spartanburg High School’s Viking Arena. The FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine will be administered to anyone age 12 and older (parent/guardian must accompany children under 18). No appointment is needed.

NEW UPDATE: Mandatory Face Coverings on Buses
Face coverings/masks are required for all individuals while riding school buses effective August 30, 2021, per the South Carolina Department of Education. Extra masks will be available on each bus in the event that a student needs one.

NEW UPDATE: Definition for a Student Close Contact

  • CDC defines a close contact as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period, starting from 48 hours before they had symptoms (or, for asymptomatic patients, 48 hours before the specimen was collected).
  • In K-12 schools, any STUDENT less than 3 feet from an infected STUDENT is a close contact and must quarantine. However, if both the infected student and the exposed student wore masks during the exposure time AND were within 3–6 feet of each other, the exposed student is not a close contact and does not need to quarantine. This 3-6 foot exception does not apply to students participating in athletics activities or to adults in the indoor classroom setting.
  • As a reminder, fully vaccinated people (and those verified to have been infected with COVID-19 in the previous 90 days) do not need to quarantine unless they develop symptoms. Individuals may voluntarily choose to provide documentation of vaccination or recent infection status to eliminate the need for quarantine. Fully vaccinated people are recommended to get tested 3-5 days after exposure, even if they do not have symptoms, and should wear a mask at school until 14 days after exposure or they receive a negative test result.

NEW UPDATE: COVID-19 Monitoring & Response Info for 2021-2022 and Active Cases/Quarantines Dashboard

Visit our COVID-19 Monitoring and Response Resources for 2021-2022 web section at for:

  • health and safety protocols
  • daily symptoms check and response protocols
  • quarantine and exclusion guidelines
  • school nurse contacts
  • active cases and quarantines by school
  • vaccine information
  • DHEC guidance for schools
  • CDC information links

Due to many students coming to school without masks this year, our nurses are handling many other illnesses in addition to COVID-19. Please note that they work each day and night, and on the weekends, to provide the most accurate information in a timely manner for our COVID-19 dashboard. The process of contact tracing and investigating potential close contacts takes a significant amount of time. As soon as accurate and reliable district-wide data is made available by our nurses, this information is posted to the COVID dashboard. During periods of higher COVID activity, it may take longer to complete contact tracing before data can be posted. 

If you have questions about this updated guidance, please contact your school nurse.

Sample Close Contact Scenarios

Vaccinated individuals who voluntarily submit proof of vaccination will not need to quarantine unless they develop symptoms. Testing is still recommended 3-5 days after exposure.

School District of Pickens County

“The South Carolina State Department of Education announced that school districts must again enforce the CDC order to require masks on school buses. Beginning Monday, August 3o, School District of Pickens County students must wear masks on the school bus.

You can view the SCDE’s requirement here.

While SDPC strongly recommends all students wear a mask throughout the school day, please make sure your student is properly wearing a mask while riding the bus. Masks will be supplied if needed.

Thank you for following this SCDE mandate.”

About the Author
Maria Bassett is a former school orchestra teacher, turned homeschool mom. She and her husband homeschool their 3 sons and 1 daughter, who range from 4th grade through 9th grade. Believing children learn best when they are engaged and having fun, this family loves to take their homeschool on the road, around Greenville and beyond.

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