These communications were sent out via BrightArrow to all Lexington Two stakeholders. They also are posted on Lex 2.0.
LETTER TO LEXINGTON TWO STAKEHOLDERS, DATED MAY 12, 2021 (evening)
Throughout the 2020-21 school year, Lexington Two has put in place a number of policies and procedures to ensure its learning and operations were safe for our students and staff amid COVID-19. These policies and procedures followed the guidelines, policies, and actions of the South Carolina Department of Education, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of these three (3), the district issued and adhered to these policies primarily based on those of the Department of Education.
On April 28, 2021, the governor signed into law the Liability Safe Harbor Act that reinforced the necessity of employers and entities adhering to guidelines set forth by the Department of Education, DHEC, and the CDC. This can be seen in Section 4.2.b emphasizing the need to follow public health guidance. In short, places of employment must continue to follow guidance, to the best of their ability, as provided.
Yesterday, the governor issued an executive order permitting students the ability to opt out of wearing masks or face coverings upon the school district receiving a not-yet-created form from DHEC that must be signed by the students’ respective parent or guardian. It was advised the governor’s executive order cannot supersede local, agency, or departmental guidance or policy, and the Department of Education was upholding their mask and face covering policy.
Earlier today, State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman rescinded the state face covering policy for public schools, except on school bus transportation, which is currently required by the federal government. At this time, DHEC, still following the guidance set forth by the CDC, has not altered its own guidance and has emphasized the importance of wearing masks or face coverings. However, DHEC did create the exemption form.
Due to the Department of Education rescinding its policy, the governor’s executive order is now in effect. Students who submit a DHEC exemption form signed by their parents/legal guardians to their home school’s office will have the option of not wearing a mask or face covering at school.
The same exemption will now be extended to both Lexington Two employees and visitors who do not need to complete a form.
The district’s “5% Rule” of moving a school to remote learning when 5% of its student population is positive with COVID-19 is still in effect.
Despite a current change in policy and procedure, again, as a result of actions taken by the governor’s office and the Department of Education, requests from parents or guardians to move students from face-to-face instruction to the Virtual Academy will not be granted.
For parents/legal guardians who would like to sign an opt-out form on masks, click here for an English language form from DHEC, or click here for a Spanish language version of the opt-out form from DHEC. Remember, to turn in the form at your child’s home school main office. If a student does not have a signed DHEC form submitted to the main office, the expectation is they must wear a mask or face covering at school. Signed letters or emails from the student’s parent or guardian are not considered official exemptions per the governor’s executive order. Students 18 and older can sign their own DHEC form.
I want to thank all of you for your patience for not just the last 24 hours, but for what have been the ups and downs of the 2020-21 school year as we adapted from one situation to another. We continue to work at providing a safe and meaningful learning opportunity for our students and a safe working environment for our employees with the guidance, resources, and support given.
Superintendent Dr. Nicolas Wade
LETTER TO LEXINGTON TWO STAKEHOLDERS, DATED MAY 12, 2021 (morning)
This morning, State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman rescinded the state face covering policy for public schools, except on school bus transportation, which is currently required by the federal government. This move follows the governor’s May 11 executive order directing that parents/legal guardians be allowed to sign an opt-out form from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to allow their children to go to school without a mask.
At this time, DHEC, still following the guidance set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has not altered its own guidance.
There are obviously a number of consequences to consider with these actions, and we are trying to sift through them at this moment. I ask for patience as we process all of this. We will communicate more information with all of our stakeholders later today.
At this time, it is still an expectation for students, staff, and visitors to wear a mask throughout the school day today as previously communicated.
Superintendent Dr. Nicolas Wade
LETTER TO LEXINGTON TWO STAKEHOLDERS, DATED MAY 11, 2021:
On Tuesday, May 11, SC Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order regarding masks in the state’s public schools.
As part of his order, the governor has “directed the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) -- in consultation with the SC Department of Education -- to develop and distribute a standardized form a parent or legal guardian may sign to opt their child out of mask requirements imposed by any public school official or public school district.”
Details, including a timetable for the availability and distribution of DHEC’s opt-out form, are still in process. We will communicate with you as soon as more information is available to us.
While Lexington Two awaits that standardized opt-out form from DHEC, the district will continue its current mask policy. That district policy requires students and staff to wear face masks while on district property, on district transportation, or attending a school-related activity (athletic events, field trips, etc.). Certain classes or activities may be granted a limited exception to this mask requirement at the discretion of the superintendent or principal.
McMaster's spokesperson, Brian Symmes, said existing rules requiring students to wear masks may remain in place until the form for parents is developed.
A copy of the full May 11 news release from the governor’s office may be found by clicking this link: https://governor.sc.gov/news/2021-05/gov-henry-mcmaster-issues-order-empowering-parents-decide-masks-schools-restricts