Back 2 School Safely

2021-22 BACK-2-SCHOOL SAFELY

  • Welcome to the ACPSD Back-2-School Safely home page!

    This page is your online destination for information related to the return to school for the 2021-22 school year as well as instructional model updates and the latest school district Covid-19 data.

    For the latest Covid-19 guidance for K-12 schools provided by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), please click HERE.

    2/22/22 UPDATE – Aiken County Superintendent King Laurence announced Tuesday (Feb. 22) that Aiken County Public Schools is relaxing its COVID-based restrictions on volunteers, visitors, field trips, and other school events, effective March 1, 2022. DHEC also issued new guidance Tuesday (Feb. 22) to transition schools from Test to Stay and quarantine to learning, working, and living with COVID-19 with minimal disruptions. The new guidance is similar to DHEC’s pre-COVID-19 guidance for influenza.

    KEY POINTS OF NEW DHEC GUIDANCE

    • The guidance applies to individual schools, not entire school districts.
    • Schools may suspend Test to Stay or quarantine once they have had two consecutive weeks with less than 10 percent of all students and staff having COVID-19.
    • When Test to Stay or quarantine has stopped, contact tracing and testing and masking of close contacts without symptoms is no longer required.
    • The first two-week period ends Feb. 28, 2022.
    • Based on week-one data (week of Feb. 21) and if the trend of low cases continues, DHEC anticipates that most schools and childcare centers will have the option to suspend Test to Stay or quarantine on March 1, 2022.
    • Schools will continue to report the number of cases to DHEC on a weekly basis.
    • If a school or childcare center that has suspended Test to Stay or quarantine and has two consecutive weeks with 10 percent or more of all students and staff having COVID-19, either Test to Stay or Quarantine will need to be reinstated.
    • Isolation requirements for those who have COVID-19 will remain unchanged.

    2/13/22 UPDATE - DHEC issued new guidance which clarified the expectation for students returning to athletics and/or extra-curricular activities after testing positive for COVID-19. While students who meet the criteria may return to the academic setting after completing 5 days of isolation while wearing a mask through day 10, they may not return to participation in athletics or extra-curricular activities until after day 10.

    1/17/22 UPDATE - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) recently updated its COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine Guidance regarding early return from quarantine. Please click HERE for updated ACPSD Isolation and Quarantine Guidance in English and HERE for updated ACPSD Isolation and Quarantine Guidance in Spanish.

    KEY POINT

    • The quarantine period for a student exposed to a positive case may end early after Day 5 with no symptoms. A test is recommended on Day 5 but is not required. A mask must be worn through Day 10.

    1/12/22 UPDATE - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) recently updated its COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine Guidance regarding at-home testing for COVID-19. Please click HERE for updated ACPSD Isolation and Quarantine Guidance in English and HERE for updated ACPSD Isolation and Quarantine Guidance in Spanish.

    1/4/22 UPDATE - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) recently updated its COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine Guidance following the CDC’s announcement of updates on December 27, 2021. SC DHEC provided updated isolation and quarantine procedures for schools in a S.C. DHEC release on December 31, 2021.

    KEY POINTS

    • The isolation period for someone positive may end after Day 5 provided all criteria to end isolation have been met. A mask must be worn through day 10.
    • The quarantine period for someone exposed to a positive case may end early after Day 5 with a negative provider test administered no earlier than Day 4 and no symptoms. A mask must be worn through day 10.
    • To be exempt from quarantine if identified as a close contact, you must have received all vaccine doses you are eligible for (completed initial vaccination series and booster for ages 18 and up, or completed initial vaccination series for ages 5-17). 
    • Students and employees should stay home if they are not feeling well. Parents should contact the school nurse if a student cannot come to school. Employees should complete the appropriate reporting form online under I Am, An Employee, Coronavirus Information.

    The following changes are being implemented to our COVID protocols per SC DHEC guidance:

    1. Individuals who are positive will isolate for 5 days. The individual may return to school/work on Day 6 if they meet the following criteria:
    • 5 days have passed since symptoms began or date of test if no symptoms
    • 24 hours have passed since last fever without taking medicine to reduce fever
    • Overall improvement in symptoms
    • Mask must be worn Days 6-10
    1. Unvaccinated close contacts without symptoms may return to school/work on Day 6 with a negative test collected no earlier than Day 4. Masks must be worn through Day 10.
    2. DHEC is now using the term maximally vaccinated for people who have completed their primary series and have had a booster shot, if eligible. Anyone eligible that does not have a booster after 6 months from the last dose of Moderna or Pfizer, or after 2 months of their Johnson and Johnson vaccine, is not considered maximally vaccinated.

    Further information can be found on SC DHEC’s website.

    11/10/21 UPDATE - The Aiken County Board of Education approved the school district's updated 2021-22 Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan during the board's regular meeting held Tuesday, November 9, 2021. The plan will be reviewed again in May of next year (2022). Stakeholders may view a copy of the approved plan by clicking HERE.

    11/08/21 UPDATE - Aiken County Public Schools is dedicated to providing opportunities for all partner voices to be heard.

    On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act was signed into law. As part of ARP, the U.S. Department of Education is providing an additional $121.9 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Ill Fund). This legislation is awarding grants to state educational agencies, including the S.C. Department of Education, to provide local educational agencies, including Aiken County Public Schools, with emergency relief funds to address the impact of COVID-19 on elementary and secondary schools across the nation.

    A component of the American Rescue Plan is a requirement that school districts develop a plan for return to in-person instruction and update the plan every six months. The District is requesting feedback on its first six-month update to the 2021-22 Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan. The updated plan represents changes to District COVID-19 protocols that have occurred following the plan’s initial approval in July of this year.

    Stakeholders may view a copy of the updated plan by clicking HERE. Proposed changes to the plan are highlighted.

    Feedback and suggestions may be e-mailed to communications@acpsd.net.

    10/12/21 UPDATE - Effective Tuesday, October 12, 2021, DHEC updated its close contact quarantine recommendations to state that close contacts who are at least three feet in distance from a person who has tested positive and who are wearing a face covering DO NOT have to quarantine.  

    9/19/21 UPDATE - Effective Monday, September 20, 2021, Aiken County Public Schools will allow students who have had no symptoms during their quarantine period to return to school on Day 8 of quarantine with a documented negative PCR or antigen test having been collected no sooner than Day 5 of quarantine.

    Students returning early from quarantine are required to correctly and consistently wear a mask through Day 14 and continue daily symptom monitoring. Students exempted from quarantine because they are fully vaccinated or previously infected must also wear a mask through Day 14.

    Parents of students currently quarantined who wish them to return to school at an earlier date should contact their school directly to establish a return date. Students may return to the classroom and full athletic participation as long as they are masked through Day 14.

    The following three quarantine options are now available to both students and staff:

    Option 1. Return on Day 8 after completing 7 days of quarantine with no symptoms and documentation of a negative PCR or antigen test collected no sooner than Day 5.

    Option 2. Return on Day 11 after completing 10 days of quarantine with no symptoms and no testing required.

    Option 3. Return on Day 15 after completing the standard 14-day quarantine with no symptoms.

    09/8/21 UPDATE: Aiken County Public Schools began to allow students and staff members to end quarantine early and return on Day 11 provided they had no symptoms and agreed to wear a mask correctly and consistently on days 11-14 while physically distancing when possible.

    09/7/21 UPDATE: The S.C. Department of Health and Envorinmental Control (DHEC) issued updated guidance for statewide K-12 schools. Click HERE to access the DHEC document.  

    07/27/21 UPDATE: The Aiken County Board of Education approved a revision of the school district's 2021-22 Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan that updates language regarding the wearing of face coverings on ACPSD school buses. The revised language states that the wearing of a face covering on school buses, while still recommended, is optional for district employees and at the discretion of parents for students. Click HERE to read the SCDE memorandum.

    07/08/21 UPDATE: Aiken County Superintendent King Laurence announced Thursday (July 8) that effective immediately the wearing of face coverings on all District school buses is optional for all ACPSD employees and at the discretion of parents and guardians for students. 

    On Tuesday, July 6, the South Carolina State Department of Education (SCDE) changed its guidance to school districts regarding the mandatory mask policy on school buses. Superintendent Laurence says while the school district will follow the guidance from the SCDE making face coverings optional on all buses for employees with parental discretion for students, all ACPSD students and staff are still encouraged to wear masks on ACPSD buses.

    “We still believe the wearing of face coverings on our District’s school buses to be in the best interests of public health so we will continue to recommend that our students and staff wear them on our school buses,” commented Superintendent Laurence.

    A federal government mask mandate for bus drivers and students had been in effect previously, but relaxed federal mandates and South Carolina General Assembly legislation created an opportunity for state educational officials to revisit the mandatory mask policy on buses.

    Proviso 1.108 was adopted by the General Assembly in the 2021-22 Appropriations Bill and reads as follows:

    1.108. (SDE: Mask Mandate Prohibition): No school district, or any of its schools, may use any funds appropriated or authorized pursuant to this act to require that its students and/or employees wear a facemask at any of its education facilities. This prohibition extends to the announcement or enforcement of any such policy.

    The SCDE interprets the proviso to mean that school districts are prohibited from requiring students and employees to wear a facemask while in any of its educational facilities for the 2021-22 school year and educational facilities include all property such as school buses which is owned and operated by the individual district.

    According to the SCDE, while it has previously enforced the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s January 29, 2021, order that requires the use of face coverings by people on public transportation conveyances and hubs, which includes school buses, effective immediately, the organization will exercise enforcement discretion and no longer enforce the face covering requirement on state owned school buses.

    The use of face coverings by students and staff on school buses and within school facilities, however, will remain a recommendation of state and federal public health officials.

    06/15/21 UPDATE: Members of the Aiken County Board of Education during its Tuesday, June 15, 2021, Special Called Meeting, approved the school district's 2021-22 Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan as part of the school district’s fulfillment of requirements related to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act.

    A Word document version of the plan may be accessed HERE

    District stakeholders and the Aiken County community had the opportunity to provide feedback and input on the District’s plan. 

    06/08/21 UPDATE: Aiken County Public Schools is requesting stakeholder and community input on its 2021-22 Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan as part of the school district’s fulfillment of requirements related to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. A Word document version of the plan may be accessed HERE

    District stakeholders and the Aiken County community have the opportunity to provide feedback and input on the District’s plan. These avenues include, but not be limited to, a public hearing during the Tuesday, June 8, 2021, regular meeting of the Aiken County Board of Education, and plan input emailed directly to communications@acpsd.net by Monday, June 14, 2021, at 10:00 a.m.  

    5/12/21 UPDATE: Aiken County Superintendent King Laurence announced Wednesday (May 12) that effective immediately the wearing of face coverings by students and staff is optional in all District schools. However, while the school district will comply fully with Governor McMaster’s Executive Order making the wearing of face coverings optional, Superintendent Laurence says all ACPSD students and staff are still encouraged to wear masks in schools for the remainder of the school year.

    “We still believe the wearing of face coverings in our schools to be in the best interest of public health to ensure we are able to complete the current school year and provide our students and staff with the best opportunity to finish the year strong,” commented Superintendent Laurence.

    4/29/21 UPDATE: Thursday morning (April 29) the District announced an important change to its face covering policy. Following a recent update in guidance by the CDC, effective immediately the wearing of face coverings outdoors on school grounds will be optional. Throughout the pandemic Aiken County Public Schools has been guided by the recommendations of medical and public health professionals regarding health and safety protocols and we will continue to monitor for new guidance as it is provided. “I am pleased we have reached a point in the global pandemic when we can take such a positive step toward normalcy,” stated Aiken County Superintendent King Laurence. “We appreciate the patience and understanding of our families and employees as health and safety guidelines related to the pandemic continue to change.”  

    2/22/21 UPDATE: Aiken County Superintendent King Laurence announced on Monday, February 22, 2021, that all students currently attending in-person instruction through the school district's Hybrid instructional model will transition to a traditional, five-day instructional model beginning Monday, March 1, 2021. This change in instructional model DOES NOT affect students currently enrolled in the school district's all-virtual instructional model through AIKEN iNNOVATE. Individual school positive case and quarantine data will continue to be monitored daily and schools exceeding established threshholds of 3 percent in positive student cases or 25 percent in teacher/staff quarantines will be transitioned to either the Hybrid instructional model or remote learning until those numbers return to acceptable levels supporting five-day instruction.   

    2/9/21 UPDATE: Aiken County Superintendent King Laurence will meet with the Back-to-School Advisory Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, to discuss the next steps for the District's instructional models and whether ACPSD schools will remain in their current models or return to five-day instruction beyond February 28, 2021. Superintendent Laurence will announce his recommendation to the Aiken County Board of Education during the board's regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 23, 2021, beginning at 6:00 p.m. The meeting may be viewed live online on our District website's home page.

2022-23 Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan

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ACPSD Positive Case Contact Tracing Procedure

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S.C. DHEC Indoor Close Contact Scenarios

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B2S QUESTIONS

  • Should your student/family have questions related to our Back-to-School Plans, we invite you to contact your home school or view our livestreamed and archived school board meetings. For specific information related to changes in instructional models or Covid-19 reporting data, please email communications@acpsd.net