Aiken County students head back to school

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North Augusta, SC (WJBF)- Monday morning students in Aiken County are headed back to the classroom.

With the rise in COVID cases in the CSRA, many parents are concerned about the health of their kids going back to school.

Because of governor Henry McMaster’s executive order banning mask mandates the Aiken County school district cannot require masks. Despite the risk of the delta variant, Superintendent King Laurence said he is not prepared to defy that order at this time.

“However, I think it’s my responsibility to encourage as many people as possible to wear masks and to encourage as many people as possible to be vaccinated. I think that’s what my role is at this point in the process is just to ensure everybody know how important I think it is, how important the district of Aiken County thinks it is,” Laurence said.

Laurence said he believes most students and staff members will take the recommendations seriously and wear their masks.

Some things will look different for Aiken County Schools than they did last year. The lack of mask requirements is one, but football is another.

Laurence said that social distancing is not as needed outdoors as it is indoors, and that with more than 40 percent of Aiken County people being fully vaccinated, he feels confident they can raise stadium capacity.

“Last year we looked at 20 or 30 percent capacity in our stadiums. This year we’re looking at 70 percent capacity in our stadiums. We’ll continue to encourage people to wear masks. We will continue to encourage students on the sidelines who are not actually playing to be in masks– also for coaches. Again, that’s not a requirement, but it is something that we are going to encourage,” Laurence explained.

The Superintendent said that while last year, football teams only played regional games, this year, they are planning to have a full schedule and hope to be able to avoid cancelling games due to COVID.

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