Lexington 2 School Board approves mask requirement until Oct. 31

From Lexington 2 Communications Director Dawn Kujawa – Lexington Two’s Board of Trustees approved an immediate temporary emergency mask requirement Thursday night for the district’s students, employees and visitors.

Communications Director Dawn Kujawa, Supt. Dr. Nicolas Wade

The temporary policy will be effective Sept. 3, through Oct. 31. It was approved by a 5-2 vote during a special called board meeting Thursday. Lexington Two’s mandate was approved on the same day the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the City of Columbia’s mask mandate for schools.

After Lexington Two’s move, students, staff and visitors will be required to wear a mask, barring an approved medical exemption, while on district property, on district transportation or while attending a district-related activity or event. Anyone without a mask will be provided one.

Last week, the SC Department of Education announced that masks would once again be required on school buses; that measure went into effect Aug. 30.

In just the first three weeks of the 2021-2022 school year, more than 2,000 Lexington Two students already have tested positive or are in quarantine — nearly a quarter of the district’s total students, and more than 3 times the total students from all of last school year, Lexington Two Superintendent Dr. Nicolas Wade said, adding the numbers continue to rise.

“Having this temporary measure in place will keep schools in session and reduce the likelihood of classroom, grade level and/or school closures due to quarantine numbers,” Dr. Wade said, adding he hopes the measure will support district families by not forcing them to adjust work schedules or commitments due to a school’s unexpected move to temporary remote instruction. Four district schools already have been placed on such temporary instruction due to high numbers of positives and quarantines.

Board members agreed Thursday to discuss the temporary mask measure intermittently between now and the October 31 expiration, to provide an opportunity for the superintendent to share changes in quarantine numbers, which are affecting school closures, and consider any possible adjustments.

“We want our students in school and we want them to be actively engaged in their learning,” Dr. Wade said after Thursday’s meeting. “We can only ensure they are engaged when they are physically in our classrooms with their teachers and peers.”