AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Richmond County Board of Education met Tuesday night to get a COVID update from the superintendent. While Aiken County has lifted mandatory mask mandates inside its schools, Richmond County says for now it won’t be changing any of its mask or social distancing guidelines.
Tuesday’s meeting had masks in the spotlight for students and staff in the Richmond County School System.
As more people get vaccinated, we’ve seen those masks come off but for now, Richmond County says they’re sticking with the governor’s executive order. As one of the most unpredictable school years comes to a close, the board of education is working to end the year while keeping everyone safe.
“We’re going to adhere to the governor’s order and continue to follow the guidance to take the extra precaution to make sure that we finish the school year strong and our students and staff continue to be safe,” said Lynthia Ross, spokeswoman for the Richmond County School System.
The district says they will continue to keep the same COVID guidelines in place that they started the year with even as case numbers are going down.
“Over the last few months, we’ve seen a decline in the number of COVID cases as well as the number of people that have had to quarantine,” said Ross.
Richmond County case numbers right now are about a quarter of what they were when school started. On August 31 there were 856 cases of COVID reported in the two weeks prior. Since May 4 that number was only 333. Percent positives are also down in the school system by almost half.
“As our staff and students have become vaccinated and as vaccine eligibility has expanded more people are vaccinated and fewer have to quarantine…more people can be in the classroom safely,” she said.
But even as more people are vaccinated and kids 12 to 15 get the vaccine the school system says they will continue to wear masks until further notice.
“This school year has been one where collaboration was key and everybody working together is what made this year successful,” she said.
As for wearing masks for summer learning and the next school year the district says it’s still up in the air. Right now they’ll continue to work with DPH.
Columbia County also still has its mask mandate in place so students are required to wear one when they’re not able to social distance. The district says they’ll ditch the masks once they believe it’s safe.