2021-22 BACK-2-SCHOOL SAFELY
Welcome to the 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. The page will be updated over the summer to archive information related to the 2020-21 school year and transition to information and data for the 2021-22 school year.
For the latest Covid-19 guidance for K-12 schools provided by the S.C. Department of Health and Envorinmental Control (DHEC) please click HERE.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 email@example.com.